Raboteurs de Parquet

Photo: Wikipedia

For a little while I’ve been meaning to share one of my favourite pictures. It’s the ‘Les Raboteurs de Parquet’ by Gustav Caillebotte. In English that’s ‘The Parquet Planers’ according to Google Translate. Now I like that! The original hangs in the Musee d’Orsay, Paris alongside better known Impressionist masterpieces. For me, it was the stand out picture when I visited over thirty years ago.  

However I’ve learnt from Wikipedia that the painting wasn’t well received when it was entered into an 1875 art exhibition. The subject matter, the portrayal of the working class, slogging away, was deemed vulgar. However another critic wasn’t bothered by this. He was upset that the blokes were too skinny for his taste. Personally I have no complaints.

Les Raboteurs de Parquet seems timeless. You wouldn’t necessarily think that it was a 19th century work. It could be modern. Look! Isn’t that a black plastic sack in the corner of the room? But then again wouldn’t parquet be restored using an electric thingummyjig these days? And maybe modern day tradesmen wouldn’t be swigging from a wine bottle of wine when on a job.

I love the muted colour palette and how it capture the lighting in the room. The detail is lovely. I particularly like the curly-wurly ironwork in the window. But perhaps the best thing about this painting is that it’s always rather pleasurable watching other people work!

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  1. Its a thing of beauty. I’m always drawn to paintings of working class & peasants going about their work; I imagine myself as one of them, as I’m sure my ancestors were!

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