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Gustave Caillebotte

The Painter’s Eye

Though largely out of the public eye for more than a century, Gustave Caillebotte (1848–94) has come to be recognized as one of the most dynamic and original artists of the impressionist movement in Paris. His paintings are favorites of museum-goers, and recent restoration of his work has revealed more color, texture, and detail than was visible before while heightening interest in all of Caillebotte’s artwork. This lush companion volume to the National Gallery of Art’s major new exhibition, coorganized with the Kimbell Art Museum, explores the power and technical brilliance of his oeuvre.

The book features fifty of Caillebotte’s strongest paintings, including post-conservation images of Paris Street; Rainy Day, along with The Floorscrapers and Pont de l’Europe, all of which date from a particularly fertile period between 1875 and 1882. The artist was criticized at the time for being too realistic and not impressionistic enough, but he was a pioneer in adopting the angled perspective of a modern camera to compose his scenes. Caillebotte’s skill and originality are evident even in the book’s reproductions, and the essays offer critical insights into his inspiration and subjects.

This sumptuously illustrated publication makes clear why Caillebotte is among the most intriguing artists of nineteenth-century France, and it deepens our understanding of the history of impressionism.

272 pages | 150 color plates | 9 1/2 x 12 | © 2015

Art: Art Criticism, Art--Biography, Art--General Studies, European Art


“A well-upholstered fauteuil of a book that readers can settle into. . . . Caillebotte is fascinating precisely because his style seemed, to his contemporaries, to be not style at all. It was ‘photographic’—not a term of praise in the 1870s, but a fundamental one for art a century on.”


“Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye is the richly illustrated and impressively researched catalogue of an exhibition shown at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.  Curators Mary Morton and George Shackelford establish once and for all the pivotal significance of Caillebotte’s often overlooked or downplayed paintings. The exhibition focused on the work Caillebotte showed with the Impressionists, dating from 1875 to the early 1880s. The catalogue demonstrates that although he was a friend of all the Impressionists, Caillebotte was closest to Edgar Degas in style and focus. Essays by the curators and other art historians spell out the rich intellectual, literary, cultural, and artistic contexts in which Caillebotte oriented himself in late-19th-century France.  Caillebotte, readers learn, was a keen observer of urban and suburban modernity. He rendered on canvas the psychological complexity of a French middle-class man’s experience of the new spaces and perspectives modern life afforded. Recommended.”


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