A Man Docking His Skiff (Primary Title)

Gustave Caillebotte, French, 1848 - 1894 (Artist)

oil on canvas
Unframed: 29 × 36 1/2 in. (73.66 × 92.71 cm)
Framed: 38 5/8 × 46 in. (98.11 × 116.84 cm)

After serving in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), Caillebotte gave up his career as a lawyer and devoted himself to painting. He attended the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and became captivated by the group’s unconventional creative methods. Caillebotte continued painting in a realistic style that flaunted his accomplished skill with a variety of techniques, but his early depictions of urban working-class subjects proved too controversial for the art establishment. Following the rejection of his paintings by the Salon, he exhibited regularly with the Impressionist group between 1876 and 1881. 

A Man Docking His Skiff is one of several leisurely scenes that Caillebotte made along the River Yerres, where his family owned a country estate. The tilted ground of this scene’s bold perspective is characteristic of many of the painter’s compositions. He employs the low point of view to great effect here, closely framing the water within a diagonal perspective that produces the canvas’s strikingly dynamic character. Caillebotte depicts the lone figure on the dock as he reaches forward over the river; the effortlessness of his gesture, drawing his skiff closer with his paddle, becomes the focal point of the composition.
signed, lower right: "G. Caillebotte 1878"
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
2019-2020: "Van Gogh Monet Degas, The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", Palazzo Zabarella, Padua, Italy, October 26, 2019 - March 1, 2020

2019-2021: Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, February 2 - May 5, 2019; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS, April 4, 2020 - January 10, 2021

2018: "Country Life: Masterpieces from the Mellon Collection of MVFA", Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris, France, September 4 - December 2, 2018

2018: "Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", The Frick Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, March 17 - July 15, 2018; Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 22 - September 22, 2019

2017-2018: "Renoir and His Models: Decoding Luncheon of the Boating Party", The Phillips Collection, October 7, 2017 - January 7, 2018.

Impressionist on the Water, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, Nov. 8, 2013-Feb. 16, 2014

Color Reflected: Impressionism on the Surface of the Water, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen (FRAME museum), April 27-Sept. 22, 2013

Gustave Caillebotte: Impressionist Paintings from Paris to the Sea, Brooklyn Museum, March 27-July 5, 2009

Gustave Caillebotte, Fondation l’Hermitage Lausanne, Switzerland, June 24-Oct. 23, 2005

Exchange loan with the Rijksmuseum Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam, June 1989-Oct. 1991

French Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, VMFA, April 4, 1967-June 5, 1968

Gustave Caillebotte, Wildenstein, London, June 15-July 16, 1966

Retrospective Gustave Caillebotte au profit du Musée de Rennes, Wildenstein, Paris, May 25-July 25, 1951

4e Exposition de Peinture, 28, Avenue de l’Opera, Paris, April 10-May 11, 1879
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Curator’s Talk: The Reinstallation of the Mellon Collection

The collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts given by Paul and Rachel Mellon constitute an essential facet of the museum’s identity. Dr. Sylvain Cordier, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art, discusses the reinstallation of the Mellon Collection.

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