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View from a balcony

Gustave Caillebotte1880

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

Gustave Caillebotte looked out over the Boulevard Hausmann in Paris through the decorative wrought-iron curls of his balcony. His depiction of this view is highly original. The focus is on the railing, while the passing vehicles and advertising column with posters are only vague blotches in the background. The palette is subtle: black contrasting with numerous shades of grey. For this painting, Caillebotte was almost certainly inspired by Japanese prints, which commonly include unexpected vantage points and interruptions. Like his contemporaries Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh, Caillebotte was fascinated by the surprising Japanese compositions and incorporated their distinctive visual elements in his own work.

This painting is part of a series of city views from the artist’s balcony. The decorative railing recurs several times, though not usually as main motif. Caillebotte has been called an ‘urban Impressionist’.

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