Renewing the floors–the hard way

The Artdog Image of Interest

Note: due to events beyond my control, we missed the Image of Interest last weekend. Therefore, this week, we get two!

The Floor Scrapers, by Gustave Caillebotte (1875), currently in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

Today’s Image of Interest is Gustave Caillebotte‘s The Floor Scrapers (1875), regarded by some scholars as “one of the greatest genre paintings of the 19th Century,” and also a masterful realist work.  Genre paintings, in contrast to paintings of classical or heroic subjects, sought to portray scenes from everyday life.

Rejected by the Salon for its “vulgar subject,” this painting moved Caillebotte more firmly into the Impressionist school, and placed a spotlight on the urban working class, just as Gustave Courbet‘s The Stone Breakers (1849) and a host of others had focused on rural workers a generation earlier.

Some commentators have made a point of linking the nude torsos of the workers, the sensuous lighting, and the speculation that the artist himself was homosexual. This may indeed have been a factor, but as many others have pointed out, the dynamic approach to a previously unattended subject, the use of light, and the sympathy demonstrated for the workers and their labor all deserve recognition.

IMAGE: Many thanks to “Art and Labor in the Nineteenth Century,” by Alice J. Walkiewicz, edited by Amy Raffel for this image.