Skip to Content
Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

French, 1848 - 1894
The Orange Trees
Oil on canvas

61 x 46 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Audrey Jones Beck

Arts of Europe

With brilliant hues of reds, greens, purples, and yellows, laid down in the flickering brushwork typical of Impressionism, Gustave Caillebotte has captured the decidedly modern theme of refined leisure activities.

In The Orange Trees, Caillebotte's brother Martial and their young cousin Zoe, both elegantly dressed, relax in the park-like garden of the family villa
at Yerres, just outside of Paris. The painting contains all the basic elements of the modern style. The sundrenched scene, with the almost palpable summer heat radiating off the garden path, was most likely painted out
of doors according to the Impressionist canon. The short, sketchy brush-strokes employed by Caillebotte embody his desire to capture a fleeting moment—that instant before the light changes and the feeling of delicious quiet and repose could be disrupted.

Yet even these Impressionist aspects do not account fully for the striking nature of The Orange Trees. Inspired by photography, Japanese prints, and the aesthetics of Baron Haussmann's newly constructed boulevards and uniform apartment buildings of modern Paris, Caillebotte explored a new way of seeing and transposing that vision onto a two-dimensional plane.