Enter Caillebotte’s world

Lucy Bennett, Contributing Writer

Gustave Caillebotte
French, 1848-1894
Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877
Oil on canvas
83 1/2 x 108 3/4in. (212.2 x 276.2 cm)
Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection
The Art Institute of Chicago

In 1875, Gustave Caillebotte submitted a painting of three men scraping a wooden floor, titled “The Floor Scrapers,” to an exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. He was rejected.

But when Edgar Degas and August Renoir saw it, they knew Caillebotte had talent.

Now, the Kimbell Art Museum is displaying 50 of Caillebotte paintings as the first major U.S. retrospective of Caillebotte’s paintings in over 20 years.

University of Dallas art history professor Dr. Catherine Caesar is excited about the exhibition and will take her students to see it next week.

“Caillebotte is probably one of the least-known Impressionists, although he exhibited with the group frequently,” Caesar said in an email. “The Kimbell’s exhibition, one of the few retrospectives of the artist’s work, originated at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and focuses on the most prolific years of his career.”

Caillebotte’s rejected painting, “The Floor Scrapers,” characterized the rest of his art. He valued what was real and true, painting the people he met and the sights he saw.

“In 1863, the French poet Charles Baudelaire wrote an essay titled ‘The Painter of Modern Life,’” Caesar said. “In the essay, he famously called for artists to depict the contemporary world around them, to act as documentarians of late 19th-century urban life. Although in 1863 Baudelaire did not yet know Gustave Caillebotte’s work, it has become one of the best examples of these representations of daily life. The artist is most well-known for his depictions of middle-class Parisians, especially ‘flaneurs’ (well-dressed men traversing the city), and for his cataloging of the rapidly-changing city itself.”

Senior history major and art history minor Andrew Narduzzi will attend the exhibit with Caesar.

Narduzzi beamed while discussing Caillebotte’s work.

“Gustave Caillebotte is important because as a major figure of the Impressionist movement, he does a really awesome job of portraying contemporary life in a way that is accessible to the viewer, and gives the viewer a chance to enter into the Parisian life scene,” Narduzzi said.

Narduzzi is excited to view an artist that allows the viewer to experience the scene as the artist once did.

“Stylistically, he is accessible through his use of color and representation, and the way that he composes the scene,” Narduzzi said. “You feel as if you are in the scene. His style does a good job at placing you where he is at and what he is feeling. It will be a good opportunity for people to go and get a more deep understanding of a familiar painter who is very crucial to the modern art movement.”

“Gustave Caillebotte: the Painter’s Eye” is on view from Nov. 8, 2015 — Feb. 14, 2016 at the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth. The museum’s personal collection is always free, and Caillebotte’s show is $16 for students.


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