About the Exhibition

Despite establishing himself as an artistic force among the French impressionists, Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894) remains perhaps the least known among them. Without need to make art as a source of income, Caillebotte did not actively sell his pictures, and few entered collectors' hands. Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye brings together over fifty of the most important and beloved pieces of Caillebotte’s career, lent from private collections, public institutions, and the artist’s own family. This exhibition will delve into Caillebotte’s diverse inspirations, offer critical insights into the cultural context of his work, and position him firmly within the pantheon of French avant-garde art.

Who was Gustave Caillebotte?
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In 1875, Caillebotte submitted The Floor Scrapers to the jury of the Salon, the official exhibition of the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. The work was rejected, but it caught the attention of Edgar Degas and Auguste Renoir, who encouraged Caillebotte to exhibit with the impressionists. Over the next six years, he participated regularly in their exhibitions, submitting paintings of the people and places he encountered in and around Paris.

Caillebotte at Home
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Caillebotte quietly dramatized images from his daily life, painting the interiors of his parents’ Parisian town home and, after their death, the nearby apartment where he lived with his youngest brother. These interior scenes are faithfully represented, displaying ornate decorations and bourgeois accessories. Many of these intimate scenes feature the people closest to the artist, but Caillebotte's interior paintings betray an undercurrent of loneliness and isolation with their subdued, somber palette, and social interaction among figures is rare. 

The Paris Street
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Caillebotte’s paintings capture the visual transformation of Paris into the city as it is known today. Begun in the 1850s under the direction of Baron Haussmann to address a host of city ills, the so-called Haussmannization of Paris implemented stringent codes that unified building design, improved urban infrastructure, widened streets, and added sidewalks and streetlamps. Caillebotte’s paintings of his Parisian environment, such as The Pont de l’Europe, are both reflections and products of this rapid modernization.

Caillebotte "en plein air"
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Caillebotte grew up between his family’s home in Paris and their large country estate in Yerres, fifteen miles south of the capital. Yerres offered respite from the city and ample opportunity for painting en plein air, a French expression meaning “in the open air.” In these suburban views, Caillebotte loosened his normally rigid painting style, using a bold palette and expressive brushstrokes. Even after the family estate was sold in 1879, Caillebotte bought his own retreat north of Paris on the Seine at Petit Gennevilliers and continued to paint en plein air.

 

Exhibited in the Renzo Piano Pavilion’s south gallery, these exemplary paintings celebrate Caillebotte’s career as an influential impressionist painter, bringing Fort Worth viewers a wonderful opportunity to explore the richness of his painting in the first major U.S. retrospective of the artist’s work in twenty years.