Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Gustave Caillebotte: "Boating Party"

This work immediately caught my attention for an effect that would be best described (though anachronistically) as cinematic. In more appropriate terms, it is the perspective, and the incredible sense of movement that convey the general feeling of continuity. The rower's right hand is slightly higher than the left, the boat is also slightly tilted and the light appears to glide randomly on the water - all of which pass on the sensation of motion and change.

Here the two styles do not mix but rather transpose. The lower part of the painting - the foreground - is realistic, the boat being depicted with academic accuracy; towards the top - the background - the style turns more and more impressionistic. It seems that the gradual transposition lends credibility to the artist's conception, though not without cost: by avoiding the edges, this work emits less individual creative force. In a way, this piece compromises Caillebotte's unique style, as it does not display all the character evident in his more daring compositions.

This is a tamed Caillebotte, which relies more on technique than invention and depth. That said, the technique is indeed superb, and I, as the viewer, am positively absorbed by, or, perhaps, into, the center of events.

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