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May 20 Art Minute: Gustave Caillebotte, Regatta at Trouville

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848-1894), Regatta at Trouville. Oil on canvas, 1884. Gift of The Wildenstein Foundation, 1953.69

In a view that seems like an uncomposed snapshot, summer villas hug the cliffs above the English Channel at Trouville, France. Beyond, sailboats racing in the Trouville-Deauville regatta dot the sea, some of them composed of only one or two strokes of paint. The atmospheric effects of sunlight, water, and moisture-laden haze where sea transitions into sky are captured evocatively in this canvas, which was probably painted out of doors (en plein air) in late July or early August. 

Although better known for his scenes of contemporary urban life in Paris, after 1880 Gustave Caillebotte increasingly painted scenes of the Normandy coast in the north of France. Born into privilege, Caillebotte was a lifelong boating enthusiast. It was around 1880 that he had begun to compete (and win) in the annual regattas at Trouville in yachts that he himself designed. The regatta of 1884, when this canvas was painted, included one of Caillebotte’s own boats.

This work is currently on view in Gallery 33.