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setting of Caillebotte’s painting is a junction of new boulevards resulting from the redesigning of Paris begun in 1852. The city’s population had reached close to 1.5 million by midcentury and nearly doubled by 1900.To accommodate this congregation of humanity and relieve the overcrowding that many believed was a major cause of the cholera epidemic of 1849—and to facilitate the movement of troops in the event of another revolution—Napoleon III ordered Paris rebuilt.a major component of the new Paris was the creation of the wide, open boulevards seen in Caillebotte’s painting.
These great avenues, whose construction caused the demolition of thousands of old buildings and streets, transformed medieval Paris into the present-day city, with its superb vistas and wide, uninterrupted arteries for the flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Caillebotte chose to focus on these markers of the new Paris and to commemorate them in a canvas of a size that rivaled traditional history painting.did not dissolve his image into the broken color and brushwork characteristic of Monet’s version of Impressionism, his composition is, save for the central lamppost, strongly asymmetrical and in violation of academic norms of design. The major building in the painting is at the upper left, a large empty space is at the lower left, and the largest figures are at the lower right. The frame also cuts off parts of Caillebotte’s figures, underscoring that the men and women in thispainting are moving and that this is a transitory moment in the life of the city and its residents. residents are all well-dressed Parisians of the leisure class—the only ones who could afford to livein the elegant new neighborhoods that Haussmann createdCamille Pissarro, La Place du Theatre Francais, 1898. Oil on canvas, 2’4 ¼” x 3’½ ”. Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, Los Angeles.Other Impressionists also found the spacious boulevards and avenues that were the result of the “Haussmannization” of Paris attractive subjects for paintingsthe only Jewish member of the Impressionist movement and the only painter to submit his work toall eight Impressionist exhibitionsapproach to recording the new look of Paris was quite different from Caillebotte’s. Using larger, rougher brushstrokes and a brighter palette, Pisarro captured his visual sensations of a crowded Parisian square viewed from several stories above street level. Unlike Monet, Pissarro did not seek to record fugitive light effects as much as the fleeting motion of street life, which he achieved through a seemingly casual arrangement of figures and horse-drawn carriages. Ironically, to accomplish this sense of spontaneity, Pissarro sometimes used photography to recordthe places he wished to paint, as did many of his fellow Impressionists.