Rainy Days in Paris

Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877), Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection.

Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877), Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection. Currently part of the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity Exhibit (2013).

Who doesn’t love this painting? I’ve admired it ever since I first started visiting the Art Institute of Chicago as a young girl. It’s so big that it welcomes you in – it feels like you’re right there on the sidewalk. Maybe you were walking in front of this couple and turned around for a brief look at the intersection behind you. Do your shoes still feel wet from the rain?

I admire Caillebotte for painting this street on a rainy day. It wouldn’t have been easy, dragging his paintbox and easel out of his studio and onto a wet street, if that’s indeed what he did. (Speaking of en plein air, I guess you would call that en pleuviex air?) We do know he drew a sketch of it first, from his Sketchbook, June 1883–September 1886, Art Institute of Chicago.

More people than ever have been getting a good look at this painting because it’s been a part of the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity Exhibit. After starting out last fall at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, it traveled to New York and is finally back in Chicago.

I just saw it again myself. It reminded me of my first trip to Paris, when I would look at every diagonal street corner and think of this painting. There are countless intersections like this in Paris, and so many rainy days. But there is only one Paris Street; Rainy Day. When I lived in Paris, I finally had time to track down the right place.

This iconic scene is located at the intersection of rue de Moscou and rue de St. Petersburg in the 8th arrondissement behind Gare St. Lazare, between Place de Clichy and Place de L’Europe. An easy walk from several Métro lines. I created a Google Map so you can check it out for yourself. Click on the street view and you’ll have the perfect view.

The scene of Caillebotte's Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877)

The scene of Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877). Funny that I should have captured this photo on a sunny day. It’s just not the same. (Not to mention the motorcycles and the lack of cobblestones!)

Rainy days in Paris can be beautiful. Or at least that’s what Parisians keep telling themselves so they don’t go bat-shit crazy during those long weeks of gloomy gray skies.

That’s what I told myself anyway. Check out these photos of mine and tell me you don’t agree. There’s just something about rainy days in Paris. . . .

A Paris puddle on Avenue Kléber in the 16th

A Paris puddle on Avenue Kléber in the 16th

A Paris puddle on Avenue Kléber in the 16th

A Paris puddle on avenue Matignon in the 8th

Rainy day, rue Cambon. Students on a cigarrette break from the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, across the street from Chanel Paris.

Rainy day, rue Cambon. Students on a cigarrette break from the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, across the street from Chanel Paris.

Paris street near Place de Vendome

Paris street near Place de Vendome

By now, Parisians are starting to wonder why I keep taking photos of the sidewalk.

At the corner of avenue Montaigne and avenue Gabriel in the 8th

In The Footsteps of the Impressionists: Place de Dublin

Today’s Paris art adventure was a walk through the streets around Gare St. Lazare and the Pont de L’Europe, the scene of many impressionist paintings by Manet, Monet and Caillebotte. One of my favorite paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago is Caillbotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877. Every time I’m standing on an angled Paris intersection I am reminded of this painting, but today I finally found the real scene at the Place de Dublin.