Over the last decades, Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894), a long-neglected painter associated with the French Impressionists, has suddenly become the subject of intense public interest and renewed scholarly debate. With a series of important exhibitions recently showcasing his work, Caillebotte’s enigmatic paintings have begun to exert an unexpected fascination for postmodern audiences, and they have become rich sites for interpretive debate.
The essays that comprise this volume exemplify the best aspects of recent Caillebotte scholarship. They employ a variety of perspectives to examine the ways in which his art sheds light on the formation of individual and class identities in Paris during the early years of the Third Republic—an era of transition marked by the burgeoning of capitalism and the instabilities of newly shifting gender roles in the modern world.
Addressing a wide range of major paintings by Caillebotte, the contributors reveal the compound ways in which the artist encoded his images and the multiple interpretations to which these images are susceptible. Juxtaposed so as to complement and challenge one another, these essays build a provocative whole as they probe issues of spectatorship and authorial intention. The contributors—all internationally known scholars and art professionals—create an important theoretical framework for the discussion of Caillebotte’s work.