Overview

Between 1877 and 1878, Gustave Caillebotte made a series of paintings focusing on swimmers, fishermen, rowers, and canoers at his family estate in Yerres. In Skiffs, which was exhibited at the fourth impressionist exhibition in 1879 under the name Pésissoires sur L’Yerres (Flat-Bottom Canoes on the Yerres), he adopted the short, broken brushstrokes of Monet and the bold palette of Renoir, but achieved a much different effect: as the rowers zig-zag across the canvas in a bold, diagonal rhythm, they convey a sense of movement, a progression of time and space that reveals Caillebotte’s interest in photography. An avid sailor and boat designer, Caillebotte—perhaps inspired by Japanese prints—adopted a dramatic viewpoint perched above the scene to emphasize the precariousness associated with the easily tipped, flat-bottomed skiffs. 

Inscription

upper right: G. Caillebotte / 1877; signed probably by someone other than the artist in imitation of atelier stamp, lower left: G. Caillebotte

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

The family of the artist, who died in 1894 without children; sold 1966 to (Wildenstein & Co., New York);[1] sold that same year to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon; gift 1985 to the NGA.

Exhibition History

1879
Le 4me Exposition de Peinture [Fourth Impressionist Exhibition], Paris, 1879, no. 10 as Périssoires.
1951
Rétrospective Gustave Caillebotte au profit du Musée de Rennes, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1951, no. 18
1959
Contrasts in Landscape, Wildenstein, New York, 1959, no. 23.
1986
Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist
1986
The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986
1990
Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990, no. 39, repro.
1996
Gustave Caillebotte: The Unknown Impressionist, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1996, no. 10, repro., as Périssoires (Flat-Bottomed Canoes) on the Yerres.
1999
Around Impressionism: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999, no cat.
1999
Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1999, no. 37, repro.
2005
Caillebotte: Au coeur de l'impressionisme, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne, 2005, no. 25, repro.
2008
Über das Wasser - Gustave Caillebotte, Kunsthalle Bremen; Ordrupgaard, Charlottenlund; Brooklyn Museum, 2008-2009, no. 27, repro.
2010
Impressionism on the Seine, Musée des impressionnismes Giverny, 2010, no. 28, repro.
2011
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 2011, no. 4, repro.

Bibliography

1978
Berhaut, Marie. Caillebotte, sa vie et son oeuvre. Catalogue raisonne des peintures et pastels. Paris, 1978: no.95.
1990
_Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Exh. cat. Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990: no. 39, repro.
1991
Coman, Florence E. Joie de Vivre: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1991: no. 23, repro.
1991
Gingold, Diane J. and Elizabeth A.C. Weil. The Corporate Patron. New York, 1991: 28-29, 32, color repro. (as Sculls).
1998
Trieb, Bernhard, Francois Chevalier, and Francois Casalis. "Gustave Caillebotte, peintre, yachtsman, architecte naval." Le Chasse-Marée 116 (May 1998): 26-30, repro. 29.
2006
Brettell, Richard R., and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. New Haven and London, 2006: 374 fig. 97a.
2012
Kennicott, Philip. "French Rooms Reopen, With Different Accents." Washington Post 135, no. 55 (January 29, 2012): E25.

Technical Summary

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