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Posts Tagged ‘Gustave Caillebotte’

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Paris Street on a Rainy Day  (1877)

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Gustave Caillebotte was born in 1848 in a wealthy environment. His father grew rich in the sale of cloth to the armies of Napoleon III. The family fortune allowed him to freely choose activities (painting, boating, boat building) in which he excelled.

He studied law and obtained a license in 1870, the year in which he began to paint. He entered the École des Beaux-Arts but only stayed there for a year. The death of his father, in 1874, brought him a comfortable fortune at the age of twenty-six and allowed him to devote himself to painting without commercial concerns.

Gustave Caillebotte did not consider himself a great painter, which he nevertheless is. Although he approached painting as a hobby, he reached the level of the greatest. He is recognized today in art history as an important realist and impressionist painter of the 19th century.

Caillebotte’s merits in helping the struggling impressionist movement are undeniable, both as a financial supporter and a propagator. He was involved in the organization of exhibitions. This help was invaluable because the Impressionists were by no means organizers whereas Caillebotte, besides his remarkable artistic talent, was also a good administrator. He also bought paintings from Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, and Manet who needed to sell in order to live. He thus built up an exceptional collection which he would bequeath to the State upon his premature death from pneumonia in 1894.

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 Lunch (1876). This well-to-do bourgeois interior is the dining room of the Caillebotte mansion, rue de Miromesnil, in Paris. A valet serves the painter’s mother and his brother, René.  The backlighting from the windows allows Caillebotte to study the reflections of light on the crystal dishes and the black table.

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Many of Caillebotte’s paintings exude melancholy and isolation. In an age, when gay men had to stay in the closet, it was wise to keep a distance. Lone observers were a frequent theme:

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Young Man at His Window (1875)

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