Banks of a Canal near Naples

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), 'Banks of a Canal near Naples', 1872

Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894)

Banks of a Canal, near Naples, c.1872

Oil on canvas, 39.7 x 59.7 cm
Purchased, 2008

Caillebotte depicts a canal and pathway extending into the distant horizon of a flat Italian landscape. By allowing the edges of his canvas to slice through the water and path, Caillebotte gives the scene a sense of randomness that marked a particularly modern way of seeing.  It is often said that Caillebotte’s cut-off compositions were informed by developments in modern photography.  The naturalistic palette of green, blue, brown and grey heightens the ‘realism’ of the scene. Caillebotte’s fascination with perspective is evident in this early work. He is thought to have painted the scene during a visit to Italy in 1872.


About the artist

Caillebotte is best known for his depictions of Paris and its inhabitants during the 1870s and 1880s. He became closely involved with the Impressionists after meeting Degas, Monet and Renoir at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1874. He participated in five of the Impressionist exhibitions and acted as one of the chief supporters of the group. Caillebotte did not achieve the fame of his associates because most of his work remained within his family’s possession and was not widely seen until the second half of the twentieth century.  He is now recognised as an important modern artist with a distinct, realist style.