Gustave Caillebotte: A Retrospective Exhibition
- Dates: February 12, 1977 through April 24, 1977
- Collections: European Art
February 2, 1977: More than one hundred paintings and drawings by the French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) will be on view at The Brooklyn Museum, Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue, from February 12 through April 24. Patron, friend, and fellow artist of Monet, Renoir, Degas and Pissar[r]o, Caillebotte, almost forgotten by the public for three-quarters of a century, is here acknowledged as a peer of the leading representatives of the revolutionary Impressionist movement.
"Caillebotte lived in the very center of one of the most important movements in modern art, among some of the most talented and influential artists of his time,” Columbia University Professor J. Kirk T. Varnedoe says in the exhibition catalogue.* "His understanding of these facts, and his estimation of his fellows, were uncannily accurate; and by his actions, he was a crucial force in making his beliefs become recognized reality. His prescient vision was crucial for posterity, and the time has come for posterity to return the favor -- to see, through the framework of a new art-historical perspective, that this generous and talented man erred in one critical judgment: the one he directed against his own significance.”
Caillebotte’s first important public exposure came with the inclusion of his Les Raboteurs de Parquet in the second Impressionist exhibition of 1876. In this year, also, he became one of a small group of wealthy patrons to collect works by members of the Impressionist circle, and he declared in his will the highly controversial bequest to the Musée de Luxembourg of his collection of Impressionist paintings. Caillebotte’s purchases, along with his other financial support in the form of gifts and loans, was of the utmost importance in sustaining the Impressionist effort. Moreover, he occupied a central position in the organization of the vitally important annual Impressionist exhibitions.
Although press comment by critics at the time emphasized his success and talent, since the turn of the century Caillebotte’s reputation has been limited almost entirely to his role as donor of the “Caillebotte Bequest” and promot[e]r of Impressionist shows. The present exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective of his work to be held since his death in 1894.
Two reasons are given by Marie Berhaut* for “the disregard in which Caillebotte’s works languished for so long....First of all, we can guess that had he been less favored by fortune and, like most of his friends, had to live by his painting, his works would have passed into galleries and auctions and would thus have been known, rather than staying in the collections of his family and friends, where they were hidden for so many years. We must also consider his early retirement; he was only thirty-four when, in 1892, he almost definitively ceased his participation in the artistic activity of Paris.”
Gustave Caillebotte was born in Paris on August 19, 1848, of a wealthy middle-class family. When he was 24 he began studies with the painter Leon Bonnat, under whose sponsorship he was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1874, he met Edgar Degas, who in turn introduced him to the Impressionists. Grasping the significance of the radically new work of this group, he quickly abandoned the official art System of the Academy.
By 1882, the original Impressionist coalition had, in large part, broken up. Caillebotte began to spend most of his time away from Paris at his home in Petit-Gennevilliers near Argenteuil. The urban views which predominate in his early work gave way to rural landscape themes. While he continued to paint and collect, it was at this time that Caillebotte withdrew almost entirely from public life. In 1893, after a period of sparse productivity, promise of a new vitality entered his work, to be cut short by his death at 45 during the following winter.
The 80 paintings and 30 drawings included in Gustave Caillebotte: A Retrospective Exhibition are on loan from the Musée du Louvre, Galerie du Jeu de Paume, Paris; Academie des Beaux Arts, Mus[é]e Marmottan, Paris; museums of Bayeux, Rennes, and Rouen; Petit PaIais, Geneva; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington; Milwaukee Art Center; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts; Toledo Museum of Art; Wadsworth Atheneurn, Hartford; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; and from private French, Swiss, and American collections.
The exhibition, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, originated at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 22, 1976, through January 2, 1977. It has been installed in the fifth floor European Galleries of The Brooklyn Museum by Sarah Faunce, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture.
*Gustave Caillebotte, A Retrospective Exhibition, by J. Kirk T. Varnedoe and Thomas P. Lee, with contributions by Marie Berhaut, Peter Galassi, and Hilarie Faberman. 223 pp, 14 photographs in color and 224 in black and white. Published by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. $12.50.
GUSTAVE CAILLEBOTTE: A RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION -- SPECIAL PROGRAMS
(Admission is free except when specified.)
Paris: 1870-1895/Dr. Robert Myron, Hofstra University/Third Floor Lecture Hall/2:30 P.M./Sponsored by the Community Committee/Admission $2.00, members and students $1.00
Gustave Caillebotte: A Retrospective Exhibition/J. Kirk T. Varnedoe, Curator of the Exhibition/Fifth Floor/2 P.M.
Paris in the 1870s: Caillebotte and the Impressionists/Jane Mayo Roos, Columbia University/Fifth Floor/2 P.M.
Caillebotte: A View from the Inside/Hilarie Faberman, Yale University/Fifth Floor/2 P.M.
Modern Art and the Modern City: From Caillebotte and the Impressionists to the Present Day/Third Floor Lecture Hall/2 P.M./J. Kirk T. Varnedoe, Assistant Professor of Art History, Columbia University/Linda Nochlin, Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Art History, Vassar College; Visiting Professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York/Theodore Reff, Professor of Art History, Columbia University/Robert Rosenblum, Professor of Fine Arts, New York University, Admission is $2.00, members and students $1.00.
Caillebotte's Space/Peter Galassi, Columbia University/Fifth Floor/2 P.M.
Painting the Urban Street Scene; Caillebotte’s Method/Kenneth Rush, The Brooklyn Museum Art School/Fifth Floor/2 P.M.