Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte was one of the least known French Impressionist of his time with paintings of landscapes, nudes, domestic scenes, still lifes, urban life, as well as portraits. Born into a wealthy textile family on August 19, 1848 in Saint-Denis, France, Caillebotte never had to paint to make a living. He survived on a stipend from his father and earned his law degree in 1868. Shortly after, he served in the Franco-Prussian War and when he returned home, his painting became his central focus. He enrolled briefly in Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1873 but not for long. In 1874, his father passed away, bestowing upon Caillebotte his fortune.

In 1875, he submitted one of his most famous paintings, Floor-Scrapers, to the Salon in Paris but they rejected it due to the crude nature of the subjects. A few artists encouraged Caillebotte to take part in the Impressionists showing, which he did that following year with eight of his paintings and continued to do so for the next six years. His style of painting varied with his subjects and he adjusted his paintings to each scene he created with soft brush strokes for tranquil scenes of the water and flatter, smoother brush strokes for city landscapes. Caillebotte adopted the School of Realism where he painted reality as he saw it without romanticizing the scenes or subject. He stated that he could “…imagine that the very great artists attach you even more to life.”

Due to his wealth, he felt no urge to sell his paintings but instead began collecting art and financially supporting his fellow artists at the time, namely Monet. At 34, he stopped showing his works and with the purchase of his house in Petit-Gennevilliers, a suburb of Paris, began to take up other hobbies such as gardening and stamp collecting. It was in his garden at the age of 45 that Gustave Caillebotte passed away from pulmonary congestion. Over half a century later, his work began to resurface and reclaim the importance it carried formerly by the art society.