Gustave Caillebotte was born on 19 August 1848 to an upper-class family living in the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, Paris. As a young man, Caillebotte trained as a lawyer, first gaining at Batchelor’s degree in 1868 and then, two years later at the age of 22, receiving his licence to practice. Following the declaration of war against Prussia on 19 July 1870, Caillebotte was mobilised by the Garde Nationale Mobile de la Seine. After the Franco-Prussian war, Caillebotte began to study painting seriously, entering the École des Beaux-Arts in 1873 to study under Léon Bonnat. In 1874, Caillebotte inherited his father’s fortune following his death. That same year, he befriended several artists working outside the Académie des Beaux-Arts, including Edgar Degas and Henri Rouart, and attended the first Impressionist exhibition. Caillebotte would exhibit at the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876, which he also supported financially, and it was around this time that he began to collect the works of the Impressionists.
Caillebotte was consistent in style throughout his career, and had an affinity for domestic and familial scenes, including interiors and portraits. The urban scenes of Paris, depicting its recent renovations by Georges-Eugène Haussmann between 1853 and 1870 are amongst his most celebrated paintings, yet he also painted landscapes and rural scenes of leisure where he would often use a softer tones and looser brushstrokes compared to his urban subjects.
Caillebotte continued to exhibit with the Impressionists in 1877, 1879 and 1880, though he would not exhibit in 1881 following a disagreement with Degas over the acceptance of new members into the movement. In 1886, Durand-Ruel showed ten of Caillebotte’s paintings in a group show at the American Art Galleries, New York. In 1888, Caillebotte moved to Petit Gennevilliers, near Argenteuil, where he would keep his primary residence. That summer, Renoir and his partner, Aline Charigot, stayed with Caillebotte in Petit Gennevilliers. Caillebotte reunited all their friends from the Impressionist group during this stay, starting a monthly tradition where they would meet either in Petit Gennevilliers or in Paris to discuss art, literature, politics, philosophy and cooking. Caillebotte would continue to exhibit with Durand-Ruel throughout the 1980s, also lending works from his own collection – which included paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Sisley and Cézanne. Caillebotte died on 21 February 1894 whilst working in his garden in Petit-Gennevilliers.
Caillebotte’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Musée Van Gogh, Amsterdam; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the National Gallery, London.
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