Gustave Caillebotte was a French artist and a member of the artistic group known as impressionists who developed their style in the 19th century, primarily in Paris. Caillebotte was born in 1848 to an affluent Parisian family who had inherited a military textile business, and his father had been widowed twice before marrying Celeste Daufresne who was the mother of Caillebotte. Caillebotte had a more realistic style of impressionism as can be seen in the striking painting of the 'Sunflowers on the Banks of the Seine,' which perfectly capture the image of the flowers in the foreground with the far shore and trees in the background.
Although Caillebotte was a patron of the impressionist group of artists, he was noteworthy for adopting a more realistic style than some of his contemporaries and he also had an interest in photography as a form of art. Prior to his painting career, Caillebotte studied law and also fought in the Franco-Prussian war before he began to paint seriously. His style developed quickly, and he also studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for a short time. However, he was influenced predominantly by other artists in his sphere at that time, such as Degas, and by pre-cursors to his peer group such as Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet,
As with other artists in the impressionist movement at that time, Caillebotte wanted to a adopt a new and more natural style of painting that did not conform to such rigid rules of form and substance as certain schools of art had done prior to this. However, Gustave Caillebotte can be further defined as part of a group that came after the first impressionists who were labelled 'neo-impressionists' which was an amalgamation of impressionism with realism in contrast to some other artists of the original movement.
In the striking colours and movement of the water in the 'Sunflowers on the Banks of the Seine,' the impressionist style is clear to see in the flowers and the patterns of light and the reflections in the river, but the more realistic mode of painting can also be clearly observed. Caillebotte wanted to move away from the constraints of earlier styles of painting but was keen to paint reality as he saw it, leading to his own, distinctive style as shown in this artwork.