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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. 


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


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
Le 4me Exposition de Peinture [Fourth Impressionist Exhibition], Paris, 1879, no. 10 as Périssoires.
Rétrospective Gustave Caillebotte au profit du Musée de Rennes, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1951, no. 18
Contrasts in Landscape, Wildenstein, New York, 1959, no. 23.
Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist
The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986
Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990, no. 39, repro.
Gustave Caillebotte: The Unknown Impressionist, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1996, no. 10, repro., as Périssoires (Flat-Bottomed Canoes) on the Yerres.
Around Impressionism: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999, no cat.
Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1999, no. 37, repro.
Caillebotte: Au coeur de l'impressionisme, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne, 2005, no. 25, repro.
Über das Wasser - Gustave Caillebotte, Kunsthalle Bremen; Ordrupgaard, Charlottenlund; Brooklyn Museum, 2008-2009, no. 27, repro.
Impressionism on the Seine, Musée des impressionnismes Giverny, 2010, no. 28, repro.
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.
Gustave Caillebotte: Impressionist in Modern Paris, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, 2013, no. 35, repro.
Caillebotte à Yerres, au temps de l'impressionnisme, Marie d'Yerres - Centre d'Art et d'Expositions La Ferme Ornée, Yerres, 2014, .
Berhaut, Marie. Caillebotte, sa vie et son oeuvre. Catalogue raisonne des peintures et pastels. Paris, 1978: no.95.
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.
Coman, Florence E. Joie de Vivre: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1991: no. 23, repro.
Gingold, Diane J. and Elizabeth A.C. Weil. The Corporate Patron. New York, 1991: 28-29, 32, color repro. (as Sculls).
Trieb, Bernhard, Francois Chevalier, and Francois Casalis. "Gustave Caillebotte, peintre, yachtsman, architecte naval." Le Chasse-Marée 116 (May 1998): 26-30, repro. 29.
Brettell, Richard R., and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. New Haven and London, 2006: 374 fig. 97a.
Kennicott, Philip. "French Rooms Reopen, With Different Accents." Washington Post 135, no. 55 (January 29, 2012): E25.