Exhibitions: Gustave Caillebotte: Impressionist Paintings from Paris to the Sea

Gustave Caillebotte: Oarsmen Rowing on the Yerres

Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848–1894). Oarsmen Rowing on the Yerres, 1877. Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 x 45 11/16 in. (81 x 116 cm). Private collection

This scene of rowers displays one of the most daring perspectives employed by Caillebotte to this date. Reaching forward to place his blade in the water, the foreground oarsman almost seems to break through the picture plane. Whereas other boating scenes include lush renderings of the surrounding landscape, here Caillebotte narrows the field of vision, focusing solely on the rowers’ exertions and the water’s sparkling reflections.

Caricaturists made much of the unusual perspective that obscured the facial features of the rowers. One satirically joked that Caillebotte might assume the duties of the recently retired executioner, given his propensity for removing heads.