‘Young Man at the Window’ by Gustave Caillebotte

Young Man at Window by Caillebotte (1876)

File:G. Caillebotte - Jeune homme à la fenêtre.jpg

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

I’m quite surprised that Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894) was a member of the French Impressionists as his paintings are much more realistic than the others’ paintings. He painted more modern subjects and his paintings are almost photographic in style.

His painting of a Young Man at Window shows Caillebotte’s brother standing at the window of a new apartment looking out on the scene below. I love the clarity and crispness of this painting, the detail of the stone balustrade, the back view of the young man – a ‘flaneur’ or man about town – and the contrast between the dark interior and bright view outside the window. In the 1870s Paris was being transformed into a modern metropolis under Napoleon III, with Baron Haussmann’s new boulevards and apartements and the rise of the bourgeoisie. The urban setting of this painting shows the tree-lined boulevard and horse drawn carriages.

Is the young man looking at the woman outside? Does he know her? What is the story behind the painting?

An ABC Wednesday post.

7 thoughts on “‘Young Man at the Window’ by Gustave Caillebotte”

  1. Margaret – Thanks for sharing this. I really like the painting, too. I see what you mean about the contrast between the room and the outside. I also like the hints of colour and detail that tell about the room the young man is in. Part of the painting’s appeal is that there are suggestions and hints, but the viewer makes up her or his own mind as to what it all means. It’s quite engaging.

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  2. Beautiful piece – reminds me of Manet’s work – a man, two women sitting with a tea set by the window. But this is much crisper, you’re right. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. This photo is almost whimsical….what great composition. It’s a really nice use of the letter Y. Feel like I’m looking out that window too.

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  4. Interesting questions, but as there are some warm and glowing colours behind him, I presume there is also passion of a kind in the room.

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  5. I’ve never heard of Gustave Caillebotte, but I like this painting and enjoyed your comments on it. Of course, he’s looking at the woman in the street… 🙂

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