Thursday, July 16, 2020

What Work Looks Like

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875, 6'4" x 4'9"

Well, I didn't work quite this hard cleaning her place today.  But it felt this way at times because I don't have my housework skills down.

Viewing the famous and greatly respected The Floor Scrapers, it is easy to see how Caillebotte gained his reputation as one of the great realist artists of the 19th century.

The Floor Scrapers is known for its early depiction of the urban working class at work.  Until this painting, nearly all pictures of men and women at work were country scenes of farm workers and peasants (often idealized or standing for a particular political message). Caillebotte has no such message about his subjects here, or, if he does, he avoids the temptation to contain it in his painting.  Instead he paints masterfully in a neutral, nearly documentary style focusing on the workers' actions, tools, muscular bodies and the soft lighting.  Perhaps his neutrality is one of the reasons the The Floor Scrapers continues to be beloved and respected by viewers at all levels of society.

More to come on Monsieur Gustave Caillebotte....

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