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Gustave Caillebotte: a still little-known impressionist

Gustave Caillebotte: a still little-known impressionist

20/03/2020

When it comes to the Impressionists, names like Degas, Manet, Renoir or Pissarro immediately come to mind, but hardly anyone thinks of Gustave Caillebotte, another Impressionist who painted important works like his most famous colleagues. 

Impressionism is one of the most important artistic currents in the history of art, initially contested by the critics of the time and later appreciated by everyone, but not all the exponents of this current have had the same success and the name of Caillebotte is one of the less famous. Let's see who this artist was and why he remained unknown to so many people.

Who was Gustave Caillebotte

Born in Paris on 19 August 1848, Gustave Caillebotte was a French painter of upper middle-class origins. Initially oriented towards a legal career, the painter decided to devote himself definitively to the Fine Arts when he met Giuseppe De Nittis' painting in Naples. 

After attending academic courses, the artist formed a strong friendship with Edgar Degas and Giuseppe De Nittis and together with them he began to attend the Café Guerbois, where he also met Manet and other young impressionists.

The style of Gustave Caillebotte

Caillebotte was one of the most innovative and modern painters of his time, undoubtedly far ahead of those years. In fact, the artist was one of the few who understood at once that photography could bring considerable help to painting. 

Inspired by photography, the painter began to paint common Parisian scenes in which the subjects seemed to be in motion, very clear landscapes, views from above and subjects coming out of the picture, just as in today's photographs. Therefore, this painter anticipated the times.

The works of Gustave Caillebotte

Among the works of the French artist, it stands out "Rainy Day in Paris", a painting made in 1877 and currently kept at the Art Institute of Chicago, "Roofs under the Snow" created in 1878, which can be seen at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and "Rowing with a Cylinder" dated 1878, which belongs to a private collection in Paris. 

The reasons why for so long Caillebotte has been forgotten

Going back to the beginning of the article we try to shed light on the reasons that have contributed to the artist falling into oblivion for several years and try to understand why this innovative painter is not known like the other impressionists. 

Apparently, although he frequented the Parisian clubs that were meeting places for most Impressionists, Gustave Caillebotte's very wealthy origins were the main reason for his lack of fame. Although Pissarro, Zola and other artists appreciated his techniques and commitment, for many other Impressionists Gustave was just a bourgeois who enjoyed painting, so he was not taken very seriously.

However, thanks to his wealth, the artist also managed to keep the Impressionist group together and financed several projects. Unfortunately, the Impressionist movement was not well seen and the artist, aware of the reality that reigned at the time, decided to leave the 67 Impressionist works he owned to the state before he died, with the stipulation that the paintings would not be left in an attic but displayed in the Louvre only when the public had been able to appreciate them. Not one of these paintings was made by him and this made him unknown to the general public as a painter until 1951, when art critic Marie Berhaut made him famous with her work.

Article by: Aurora Caraman