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Gustave Caillebotte

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Gustave Caillebotte
Gustave Caillebotte photo c1878.jpg
Gustave Caillebotte, about age 30, c. 1878
Gustave Caillebotte

(1848-08-19)19 August 1848
Paris, France
Died21 February 1894(1894-02-21) (aged 45)
EducationÉcole des Beaux-Arts
Known forPainting
MovementRealism, Impressionism
Portrait de l'artiste (Self-portrait). c. 1892. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Portrait de l'artiste (Self-portrait). c. 1892. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Gustave Caillebotte (French: [ɡystav kɑjbɔt]; 19 August 1848 – 21 February 1894) was a French painter who was a member and patron of the Impressionists, although he painted in a more realistic manner than many others in the group. Caillebotte was noted for his early interest in photography as an art form.[1]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day
  • ✪ From a Different Perspective - Lecture 1 - Gustave Caillebotte : The view from Parc Monceau.
  • ✪ Gustave Caillebotte: A collection of 228 paintings (HD)
  • ✪ Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers
  • ✪ Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye


(piano music playing) Beth: When Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day was exhibited in 1877 at the Impressionist Exhibition, one anonymous reviewer wrote, "Caillebotte is an impressionist in name only. "He knows how to draw, "and paints more seriously than his friends." Steven: Well, you know, when we think of impressionism, we think of the countryside, light-filled summer, loose brush work, and Caillebotte has given us this complex image of the subtlety of light in the city after a rainstorm. Beth: And without all of that loose, open brushwork. This reviewer is saying he knows how to draw. There is a sense of line, of contours, of forms that exist three-dimensionally in space. That's not what the impressionists were doing in 1877. At that same exhibition, one could have seen Renoir's Moulin de la Galette. Steven: Which is full of light and movement and open brushwork. Beth: Or, paintings by Monet of the Gare Saint-Lazare, where Monet concentrated on the effects of light through the steam in that railway station. Steven: In fact, so much so that even the massiveness of the locomotive dissolved within that atmosphere, but here Caillebotte has given us a sense of massiveness. Look at the apartment buildings in the background. Look at the cobblestones. These are solid forms. Beth: Right, nothing's dissolving into brushwork or light here. Steven: And yet this painting is still all about light, but it's about its reflectivity. It's about shadow, and it's about the way that light can define forms in a far more solid way. Beth: Caillebotte is painting modern Paris, wide boulevards that had just recently been built, and the modern apartment houses that lined those boulevards. Steven: He's also giving us the middle class that then populated this city. Look at how fashionably-dressed the couple in the foreground are. Beth: Although, we do seem to have some different types of people. If we look closely, we mostly see those fashionable, upper class or upper-middle class people, but behind the woman, to the right, just above her shoulder, we see someone who looks working class, and in the background, we see what looks like a painter carrying a ladder. Steven: And, in fact, that was really one of the definitions of the new modern city, was the way in which the lives of people of different classes crossed on the streets. This is a painting that really is about intersections. Beth: The rainy day, the yellowish-gray of the sky capturing a specific moment. Look at the sense of the reflectivity of the water between the cobblestones. Steven: This seems so spontaneous, as if this is this fragment of time, this moment. Nobody seems to be posed. The main figures aren't in the middle. Instead, the man on the right is actually cut off! We only see half his body. This would have been an aesthetic that would have failed, very much at odds with classical art, and perhaps even would have been seen as coming out of the new vision of the photograph. Beth: These are all things that would have felt very radical to an audience in 1877. Steven: And yet, although we don't notice it at first, the painting is really carefully balanced, and carefully composed. This is not a snapshot. If we look at the painting, it's divided into four quadrants. You've got that vertical division in the middle of the canvas. Then, right at the level of the woman's mouth, moving across, and then at the bottom of the apartment in the background. They've got a painting that was divided into four areas, and there really is a sense of stability and balance, even though it's still asymmetrical, for all the seriousness of the issues that we're talking about, this is a really playful painting. For instance, look at the man who's clearly in the middle ground, but seems to be hopping off the red wheels of that coach that we see in the background. There are these playful juxtapositions that Caillebotte is very intentionally placing in here that speaks to the way in which the modern world has become a complex jumble, the way in which things come together in relationships that are unexpected. Beth: And fragmentary and ephemeral, and these were all things that felt very modern in the 1870s. Steven: But he's having fun with them. Look, for instance, at the legs that are dangling from the umbrella held by the man in the center of the painting. Beth: So Caillebotte continued to paint urban themes, though he died rather young when he was in his 40s, and he was independently wealthy, and so had no need to sell his paintings. Throughout his life, he collected the work of his friends, of the impressionists, and amassed, actually, a really remarkable collection that he left to the French state. His collection forms the heart of the great works that we see today at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. (piano music playing)


Early life

Gustave Caillebotte (right) and his brother, Martial
Gustave Caillebotte (right) and his brother, Martial

Gustave Caillebotte was born on 19 August 1848 to an upper-class Parisian family living in the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. His father, Martial Caillebotte (1799–1874), was the inheritor of the family's military textile business and was also a judge at the Seine department's Tribunal de commerce. Caillebotte's father was twice widowed before marrying Caillebotte's mother, Céleste Daufresne (1819–1878), who had two more sons after Gustave: René (1851–1876) and Martial (1853–1910).[2] Caillebotte was born at home on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis in Paris, and lived there until 1866, when his father had a home built on 77 rue de Miromesnil. Beginning in 1860, the Caillebotte family began spending many of their summers in Yerres, a town on the Yerres River about 12 miles (20 km) south of Paris, where Martial Caillebotte, Sr. had purchased a large property. It probably was around this time that Caillebotte began to draw and paint.

Caillebotte earned a law degree in 1868 and a license to practice law in 1870, and he also was an engineer. Shortly after his education, he was drafted to fight in the Franco-Prussian war, and served from July 1870 to March 1871 in the Garde Nationale Mobile de la Seine.[3]

Artistic life


After the war, Caillebotte began visiting the studio of painter Léon Bonnat, where he began to study painting seriously. He developed an accomplished style in a relatively short time and had his first studio in his parents' home. In 1873, Caillebotte entered the École des Beaux-Arts, but apparently did not spend much time there.[4] He inherited his father's fortune in 1874 and the surviving sons divided the family fortune after their mother's death in 1878.[5] Around 1874, Caillebotte met and befriended several artists working outside the Académie des Beaux-Arts, including Edgar Degas and Giuseppe de Nittis, and he attended (but did not participate in) the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874.[6]

The "Impressionists" – also called the "Independents", "Intransigents", and "Intentionalists" – had broken away from the academic painters showing in the annual Salons.[4] Caillebotte made his debut in the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876, showing eight paintings, including, Les raboteurs de parquet (The Floor Scrapers) (1875), his earliest masterpiece.[7] Its subject matter, the depiction of labourers preparing a wooden floor (thought to have been that of the artist's own studio) was considered "vulgar" by some critics and this is the probable reason for its rejection by the Salon of 1875. At the time, the art establishment deemed only rustic peasants or farmers acceptable subjects from the working class.[8] The painting is now at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. A second version, in a more realistic style resembling that of Degas, also was exhibited, demonstrating Caillebotte's range of technique and his adept restatement of the same subject matter.


Les raboteurs de parquet (1875), a controversial realist subject, Musée d'Orsay
Les raboteurs de parquet (1875), a controversial realist subject, Musée d'Orsay

With regard to the composition and painting style of his works, Caillebotte may be considered part of the first movement after Impressionism: Neo-Impressionism. The second period of Pointillism, whose main representative was Georges Seurat, announced its influence in the late works that Caillebotte painted at his country house in Petit Gennevilliers.[9] Caillebotte's style belongs to the School of Realism but was strongly influenced by his Impressionist associates. In common with his precursors Jean-François Millet and Gustave Courbet, as well his contemporary Degas, Caillebotte aimed to paint reality as it existed and as he saw it, hoping to reduce the inherent theatricality of painting. Perhaps because of his close relationship with so many of his peers, his style and technique vary considerably among his works, as if "borrowing" and experimenting, but not really sticking to any one style. At times, he seems very much in the Degas camp of rich-colored realism (especially his interior scenes); at other times, he shares the Impressionist commitment to "optical truth" and employs an impressionistic pastel-softness and loose brush strokes most similar to Renoir and Pissarro, although with a less vibrant palette.[10]

The tilted ground common to these paintings is very characteristic of Caillebotte's work, which may have been strongly influenced by Japanese prints and the new technology of photography, although evidence of his use of photography is lacking.[11] Cropping and "zooming-in", techniques that commonly are found in Caillebotte's oeuvre, may also be the result of his interest in photography, but may just as likely be derived from his intense interest in perspective effects. A large number of Caillebotte's works also employ a very high vantage point, including View of Rooftops (Snow) (Vue de toits (Effet de neige)) (1878), Boulevard Seen from Above (Boulevard vu d'en haut) (1880), and A Traffic Island (Un refuge, boulevard Haussmann) (1880).[12]


Young Man at His Window [his brother René] (1875), private collection
Young Man at His Window [his brother René] (1875), private collection

Caillebotte painted many domestic and familial scenes, interiors, and portraits. Many of his paintings depict members of his family; Young Man at His Window (Jeune Homme à la fenêtre) (1875) shows René in the home on rue de Miromesnil; The Orange Trees (Les Orangers) (1878), depicts Martial Jr. and his cousin Zoé in the garden of the family property at Yerres; and Portraits in the Country (Portraits à la campagne) (1875) includes Caillebotte's mother along with his aunt, cousin, and a family friend. There are scenes of dining, card playing, piano playing, reading, and sewing, all executed in an intimate, unobtrusive manner that portrays the quiet ritual of upper-class indoor life.[13]

His country scenes at Yerres focus on pleasure boating on the leisurely stream as well as fishing and swimming, and domestic scenes around his country home. He often used a soft impressionistic technique reminiscent of Renoir to convey the tranquil nature of the countryside, in sharp contrast to the flatter, smoother strokes of his urban paintings. In Oarsman in a Top Hat (1877), he effectively manages the perspective of a passenger in the back of a rowboat facing his rowing companion and the stream ahead, in a manner much more realistic and involving than Manet's Boating (1874).[14]

Caillebotte is best known for his paintings of urban Paris, such as The Europe Bridge (Le Pont de l'Europe) (1876), and Paris Street; Rainy Day (Rue de Paris; temps de pluie, also known as La Place de l'Europe, temps de pluie) (1877). The latter is almost unique among his works for its particularly flat colors and photo-realistic effect, which give the painting its distinctive and modern look, almost akin to American Realists such as Edward Hopper.[15] Many of his urban paintings were quite controversial due to their exaggerated, plunging perspective.[16] In Man on a Balcony (1880), he invites the viewer to share the balcony with his subject and join in observing the scene of the city reaching into the distance, again by using unusual perspective.[17] Showing little allegiance to any one style, many of Caillebotte's other urban paintings produced in the same period, such as The Place Saint-Augustin (1877), are considerably more impressionistic.[18]

Caillebotte's still life paintings focus primarily on food, some at table ready to be eaten and some ready to be purchased, as in a series of paintings he made of meat at a butcher shop.[19] He also produced some floral still-life paintings, particularly in the 1890s. Rounding out his subject matter, he painted a few nudes, including Homme au bain (1884) and Nude on a Couch (1882), which, although provocative in its realism, is ambivalent in its mood — neither overtly erotic nor suggestive of mythology — themes common to many nude paintings of women during that era.[20]

Later life

Le jardin du Petit Gennevilliers en hiver (1894), private collection
Le jardin du Petit Gennevilliers en hiver (1894), private collection

In 1881, Caillebotte acquired a property at Petit-Gennevilliers, on the banks of the Seine near Argenteuil, and he moved there permanently in 1888.[21] He ceased showing his work at age 34 and devoted himself to gardening and to building and racing yachts, and he spent much time with his brother, Martial, and his friend Auguste Renoir. Renoir often came to stay at Petit-Gennevilliers, and engaged in far-ranging discussions on art, politics, literature, and philosophy. Caillebotte was a model for Renoir's 1881 painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party. Never married, Caillebotte appears to have had a serious relationship with Charlotte Berthier, a woman eleven years his junior and of the lower class, to whom he left a sizeable annuity.[22]

Caillebotte's painting career slowed dramatically in the early 1890s when he stopped making large canvases. Caillebotte died of pulmonary congestion while working in his garden at Petit-Gennevilliers in 1894 at age 45. He was interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.[23]

For many years and in part because he never had to sell his work to support himself, Caillebotte's reputation as a painter was overshadowed by his recognition as a supporter of the arts.[24] Seventy years after his death, however, art historians began reevaluating his artistic contributions. His striking use of varying perspective is particularly admirable and sets him apart from his peers who may have otherwise surpassed him. His art was largely forgotten until the 1950s when his descendants began to sell the family collection. In 1964, The Art Institute of Chicago acquired Paris Street; Rainy Day, spurring American interest in him.[25] By the 1970s, his works were being exhibited again and critically reassessed.

The National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) and the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas) organized a major retrospective display of Caillebotte's painting for exhibition in 2015–2016, to pursue further the rediscovery of his work.[26]

Patron and collector

Caillebotte in his greenhouse (February 1892, Petit Gennevilliers)
Caillebotte in his greenhouse (February 1892, Petit Gennevilliers)

Caillebotte's sizable allowance, along with the inheritance he received after the death of his father in 1874 and his mother in 1878, allowed him to paint without the pressure to sell his work. It also allowed him to help fund Impressionist exhibitions and support his fellow artists and friends (Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro among others) by purchasing their works and, at least in the case of Monet, paying the rent for their studios.

Caillebotte bought his first Monet in 1875 and was especially helpful to that artist's career and financial survival.[27] He was precise in his sponsorship; notably absent are works by Georges Seurat and Paul Gauguin, or any of the Symbolists.[10] In 1890 he played a major role in assisting Claude Monet in organizing a public subscription and in persuading the French state to purchase Édouard Manet's 1863 Olympia.[10][28]

Other interests

In addition, Caillebotte used his wealth to fund a variety of hobbies for which he was quite passionate, including stamp collecting, orchid growing, yacht building, and even textile design (the women in his paintings Madame Boissière Knitting, 1877, and Portrait of Madame Caillebotte, 1877, may be working on patterns created by Caillebotte). After his death, he was inscribed in the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, and the collection he formed with his brother Martial is now in the British Library.[29]

Caillebotte's collection

Yellow Roses in a Vase, 1882, Dallas Museum of Art
Yellow Roses in a Vase, 1882, Dallas Museum of Art

Convinced after the death in 1876 of his younger brother René that his own life would be short, Caillebotte wrote his will while still in his twenties.[27] In the will, Caillebotte bequeathed a large collection to the French government. This collection ultimately included sixty-eight paintings by various artists: Camille Pissarro (nineteen), Claude Monet (fourteen), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (ten), Alfred Sisley (nine), Edgar Degas (seven), Paul Cézanne (five), and Édouard Manet (four).[23]

At the time of Caillebotte's death, the Impressionists were still largely condemned by the art establishment in France, which was dominated by Academic art and specifically, the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Because of this, Caillebotte realised that the cultural treasures in his collection would likely disappear into "attics" and "provincial museums". He therefore stipulated that they must be displayed in the Luxembourg Palace (devoted to the work of living artists), and then in the Louvre.[30]

The French government would not agree to these terms. In February 1896, they finally negotiated terms with Renoir, who was the executor of the will, under which they took thirty-eight of the paintings to the Luxembourg Palace. The installation constituted the first presentation of the Impressionists in a public venue in France.[31] The remaining twenty-nine paintings (one by Degas was taken by Renoir in payment for his services as executor) were offered to the French government twice again, in 1904 and 1908, and were both times refused. When the government finally attempted to claim them in 1928, the bequest was repudiated by the widow of Caillebotte's brother Martial Caillebotte. Most of the remaining works were purchased by Albert C. Barnes and now are held by the Barnes Foundation.[32]

Forty of Caillebotte's own works are held by the Musée d'Orsay. His Man on a Balcony, Boulevard Haussmann (Homme au balcon, boulevard Haussmann) (1880), sold for more than US$14.3 million in 2000.


References and sources

  1. ^ "Gustave Caillebotte - The Complete Works - Biography -". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  2. ^ Anne Distel, et al., Gustave Caillebotte: Urban Impressionist, Abbeville Press, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-7892-0041-4, p. 311
  3. ^ Kirk Varnedoe 1987, p. 2
  4. ^ a b Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 30
  5. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, pp. 19, 180
  6. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 312
  7. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 19
  8. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 37
  9. ^ Nathalia Brodskaïa and Victoria Charles, Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), New York, 2014, Parkstone Press International, ISBN 978-1-78310-589-2
  10. ^ a b c Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 13
  11. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 38
  12. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, pp. 153, 171
  13. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, pp. 178–180
  14. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, pp. 74–75
  15. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 116
  16. ^ Kirk Varnedoe 1987, p. 3
  17. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 143
  18. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 110
  19. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, pp. 233–236
  20. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 214
  21. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 268
  22. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 184
  23. ^ a b Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 23
  24. ^ Kirk Varnedoe 1987, p. 10
  25. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 25
  26. ^ Morton, Mary & Shackelford, George T.M., 2015
  27. ^ a b Kirk Varnedoe 1987, p. 4
  28. ^ CultureShock, Manet's Olympia
  29. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, pp. 21–22
  30. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 24
  31. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, p. 318
  32. ^ Anne Distel, et al., 1995, pp. 24–25
  33. ^ "Iris Cantor Donates Gustave Caillebotte Femme nue étendue sur un Divan to Met". Urban Art and Antiques; Antique News; Art News.
  • Berhaut, Marie (1994). Gustave Caillebotte: Catalogue raisonné des peintures et pastels. Paris: Wildenstein Institute.
  • Broude, Norma (Ed.) (2002). Gustave Caillebotte and the Fashioning of Identity in Impressionist Paris. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  • Distel, Anne (1996). Gustave Caillebotte: The Unknown Impressionist. London: The Royal Academy of Arts, London.
  • Distel, Anne; Druick, Douglas W.; Groom, Gloria & Rapetti, Rodolphe (1995). Gustave Caillebotte, Urban Impressionist. New York: Abbeville Publishing Group (Abbeville Press, Inc.) & The Art Institute of Chicago. (American catalogue for retrospective exhibition in Paris, Chicago, & Los Angeles, 1994–1995.)
  • Charles, Daniel; Fonsmark, Anne-Birgitte; Hansen, Dorothee; Hedin, Gry & Thomson, Richard (2008). "Gustave Caillebotte". Published by Hatje Cantz. (Exhibition catalogue for exhibition at Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen & Kunsthalle Bremen, 2008–2009)
  • Morton, Mary & Shackelford, George T.M. (2015). "Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter's Eye". Chicago: University of Chicago Press (Catalogue for retrospective exhibition in Washington, DC, and Fort Worth, Texas 2015–2016.)
  • Varnedoe, Kirk (1987). Gustave Caillebotte. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03722-8
  • Wittmer, Pierre (1991). Caillebotte and His Garden at Yerres. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 September 2019, at 19:17
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