Art Work of the Week: Caillebotte’s Effect of Rain

The very first time I visited the IU Art Museum two years ago, this was one of the pieces that resonated with me the most. Even without knowing much about Gustave Caillebotte at the time, I could appreciate the rhythmic juxtaposition of the ripples across the water, caused by the steady fall of a summer rain. This painting made me feel peaceful, and almost like I could smell the warm, humid air. When I was young, one of my brother and my favorite summer activities was to play in the rain, splashing through puddles in our neighborhood streets and mostly disregarding our umbrellas.
(When cars weren’t coming, of course. Safety first)

Gustave Caillebotte
French, 1848–1894
Yerres, Effect of Rain, 1875
Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 x 23 ¼ in.
Gift of Mrs. Nicholas H. Noyes, 71.40.2. Image via.

According to the Masterworks of the Indiana University Art Museum (pg. 298), Caillebotte’s family estate was located in Yerres and he enjoyed painting the river near the family property. Yerres, Effect of Rain was Caillebotte’s first work to focus on water as the dominant element of the composition. The abandoned canoe across the water recalls canoes/skiffs found frequently in Caillebotte’s other paintings, typically manned by bourgeois citizens. Unlike the rest of his oeuvre (body of work), this painting does not incorporate any human figures into the composition.

Propriété Caillebotte à Yerres. Caillebotte lived here. Yikes, that’s nice. Image via.

Caillebotte was the son of a wealthy textile merchant, and utilized his inheritance in order to financially support his Impressionist artist friends through exhibitions and publications. He was at the forefront of the movement, this painting being produced during his most prolific painting period. When the Impressionist group dissolved in 1882, Caillebotte’s painting output diminished and he turned instead to designing and building racing yachts similar to those he had depicted in his paintings. Today, Caillebotte is remembered as a pivotal member of the Impressionist movement.

If you really enjoy this painting, Angles Café and Gift Shop sells an umbrella with its printed image. The large, high quality Caillebotte umbrella has a fine, curved wooden handle and sells for $39.99.

You can find the real painting in the first floor Art of the Western World gallery!