Gustave Caillebotte

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Gustave Caillebotte was a renowned and influential French painter and art collector, who is notably one of the most famous and earliest Impressionist painters. Moreover, Gustave was the prominent organizer, promoter and financial investor for all the earliest Impressionist exhibitions. His used his great wealth to help his Impressionist friends, such as Monet, Renoir, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley and Paul Cezanne, by buying their works at unusually high prices.

Gustave Caillebotte was born on August 19, 1848, in Paris France. He hailed from a prosperous and affluent Parisian family, his father, Martial Caillebotte ran the family business of military textile along with serving as a judge at the Tribunal de Commerce of the Seine department. Gustave’s great artistic talent and affinity was first discovered in 1860, when the family was spending their summer vacations at their house in Yerres.

However, Gustave did not pursue an education in art, and instead, he received his law degree in 1868. In 1870, he received his license to practice law, however, his career was cut short with the advent of the Franco-Prussian war. Gustave enlisted in the army and served in the Garde Nationale Mobile de la Seine. When the war came to an end, Gustave began studying painting with notable painter, Leon Bonnat. Soon after, in 1873, he enrolled himself at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, however, he did not spend much time there. During this period, he began frequenting the circles of several artists such as, Giuseppe de Nittis and Edgar Degas, who encouraged his affiliation with the Impressionist movement.

In 1876, Gustave made his debut in the art world by showcasing his work for the first time at the Second Impressionist Exhibition. His submitted a total of eight paintings, including the famous, ‘Floor scrapers’. Gustave’s art garnered much praise and immense critical acclaim for his unique style and emotionally intense depiction of his subjects. Unlike other artists, Gustave wanted to paint reality, exactly as he saw it, without the exaggeration or beautification of color and texture. He had a fondness for painting domestic scenes, interior scenes and portraits, and several of his paintings depict his own family members, for instance, ‘Young man at His Window’, ‘The Orange Trees’ and Portraits in the Country’.

Some of his works also depict the indoor activities and habits of the upper class life, for instance, playing cards, playing the piano, sewing, reading and dining. The countryside of Yerres had a special place in his heart and the beautiful scenes of the town and the river have been featured by him on countless remarkable and tranquil canvases, for instance, ‘Oarsman in a Top Hat’, ‘Skiffs on the Yerres’ and ‘The Yerres, Rain’ among many others.

Gustave has also brilliantly depicted some scenes of the urban Parisian life, such as ‘Le Pont de l’Europe’, ‘Paris street: Rainy Day’, ‘Man on a Balcony’ and ‘The Place Saint-Augustin’. Some of his other best known and famous works include, ‘View of Rooftop’, ‘Boulevard Seen from Above’, ‘A Traffic Island’ and ‘Nude on a Couch’.

Gustave’s reputation as a prolific and influential art patron and collector far transcended his fame as a painter. Gustave used his great fortune to help his friends in buying their works at exuberantly huge sums of money. Gustave Caillebotte passed away at the age of 45, after suffering an attack of pulmonary congestion.

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