When I first entered this particular gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago, the large painting across from the entrance made me smile. And then I sat down on the bench across from it to contemplate the gorgeous urban scene. The rainy day vista was a snapshot of a Paris long gone. And it was beautiful.
The museum had just finished a major restoration and cleaning of Paris Street; Rainy Day by the French artist Gustave Caillebotte. One of Caillebotte’s best known works, the 1877 painting depicts what was then known as Carrefour de Moscou, a road east of the Gare Saint-Lazare in north Paris, now called Place de Dublin.
When you first walk in to the room, the painting immediately grabs your attention. The blue-gray walls push it off the wall, and you feel like you could actually enter the boulevard itself with madam and monsieur.
I used a lavender pink underlay to set the cool, soothing tones of the rainy streets before putting the strong, deeper blue layer on top.
I loved these two women looking at the work, possibly a mother and daughter. One is lining up her photos, while the other leans in to stare at the painting.
Maybe things have not changed so much.
“Urban Scene” oil on linen, 30 x 24″