Google+ Early French Impressionist Painters – Bazille and Caillebotte « Francoise Cariou

Early French Impressionist Painters – Bazille and Caillebotte

Fredric Bazille


His name is not as familiar as those of his contemporaries. His legacy also is not as prolific. For a good reason. He died at age 29. Yet Frederic Bazille was truly one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. One who, coming from a wealthy family even financially supported Monet and Renoir early in their careers. has more:
“His home in the Batignolles neighborhood in Paris became a headquarters for the Impressionists; hence the movement was first called the “Batignolles School.” Bazille’s 1870 work The Artist’s Studio in the Rue de la Condamine showing Renoir, journalist and critic mile Zola, Monet, douard Manet, Bazille, and Edmond Maitre in Bazille’s studio exemplifies this period.

Frédéric Bazille’s best-known work, Family Reunion (1867), was a leading example of what is now known as outdoor figural art. The painting was exhibited at the Salon, France’s exclusive state-run art show, in 1869. Family Reunion showed Bazille’s extended family at their country estate, Méric, and exemplified the artist’s use of color and adept depiction of human figures, both hallmarks of the Realist-Impressionist style. The painting was an example of the challenge that faced all Impressionists: how to reconcile traditional figure painting with an outdoor practice.

Frédéric Bazille’s Summer Scene (Bathers) (1869) transported figure drawings created in his Paris studio to an outdoor setting that included trees, grass and water. The painting depicted young men dressed in swimsuits having a leisurely day along the banks of a river near Méric. Like Family Reunion, Summer Scene captured friends and family members in the outdoors and was exhibited at the Salon in 1870.

In 1870, Frédéric Bazille joined the infantry after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. He was almost immediately sent to Algeria for combat training and by the end of the year, he was battling in the frontlines. Frédéric Bazille was tragically killed in action in his first battle, on November 28, 1870, at age 29.”

Learn More about the Short life of Impressionist Painter Fredric Bazille HERE.


Gustave Caillebotte

Like Bazille, Gustave Caillebotte came from a wealthy family. And like his short-lived fellow impressionist, also financially supported many of his colleagues. The label “gentleman painter” might accurately be applied to Caillebotte. He was also, as one might expect of a man of wealth, an art collector. This passion was to provide the impressionists with their first state sponsored permanent exhibition.

Wikipedia provies us with the complete history:

“Around 1874, Caillebotte met and befriended several artists working outside the official French Academy, including Edgar Degas and Giuseppe de Nittis, and attended (but did not participate in) the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874

The “Impressionists” – also called the “Independents”, “Intransigents”, and “Intentionalists” – had broken away from the academic painters showing in the annual Salons. Caillebotte did make his debut in the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876 showing eight paintings including Les raboteurs de parquet (The Floor Scrapers) (1875), his earliest masterpiece. Its subject matter, the depiction of labourers preparing a wooden floor (thought to have been that of the artist’s own studio) was considered “vulgar” by some critics and is the probable reason why it was rejected by the Salon of 1875. At the time, the art establishment only deemed rustic peasants or farmers as acceptable subjects from the working class. The painting now resides at the Musée d’Orsay. A second version, in a more realistic style resembling that of Degas, was also exhibited, demonstrating Caillebotte’s range of technique and his adept restatement of the same subject matter.


Caillebotte’s style belongs to the School of Realism but was strongly influenced by his Impressionist associates. In common with his precursors, Jean-François Millet and Gustave Courbet, as well his contemporary Degas, Caillebotte aimed to paint reality as it existed and as he saw it, hoping to reduce painting’s inherent theatricality. Perhaps because of his close relationship with so many of his peers, his style and technique varies considerably among his works, as if “borrowing” and experimenting, but not really sticking to any one style. At times, he seems very much in the Degas camp of rich-colored realism (especially his interior scenes) and at other times, he shares the Impressionists’ commitment to “optical truth” and employs an impressionistic pastel-softness and loose brush strokes most similar to Renoir and Pissarro, though with a less vibrant palette.

The tilted ground common to these paintings is very characteristic of Caillebotte’s work, which may have been strongly influenced by Japanese prints and the new technology of photography, though evidence of his actual use of photography is lacking.[ Cropping and “zooming-in”, techniques which are also commonly found in Caillebotte’s oeuvre, may also be the result of his interest in photography, but may just as likely derive from his intense interest in perspective effects. A large number of Caillebotte’s works also employ a very high vantage point, including View of Rooftops (Snow) (Vue de toits (Effet de neige)) (1878), Boulevard Seen from Above (Boulevard vu d’en haut) (1880), and A Traffic Island (Un refuge, boulevard Haussmann) (1880).


Young Man at the Window (René Caillebotte), (1875), Private collection
Caillebotte painted many domestic and familial scenes, interiors, and portraits. Many of his paintings depict members of his family; Young Man at The Window (Jeune Homme à la fenêtre) (1875) shows René in the home on rue de Miromesnil; The Orange Trees (Les orangers) (1878), depicts Martial Jr. and his cousin Zoë in the garden of the family property at Yerres; and Portraits in the Country (Portraits à la campagne) (1875) includes Caillebotte’s mother along with his aunt, cousin, and a family friend. There are scenes of dining, card playing, piano playing, reading and sewing all executed in an intimate, unobtrusive manner which observes the quiet ritual of upper-class indoor life.

His country scenes at Yerres focus on pleasure boating on the leisurely stream as well as fishing and swimming, and domestic scenes around his country home. Often, he used a soft impressionistic technique reminiscent of Renoir to convey the tranquil nature of the countryside, in sharp contrast to the flatter, smoother strokes of his urban paintings. In Oarsman in a Top Hat (1877), he effectively manages the perspective of a passenger in the back of a row boat facing his rowing companion and the stream ahead, in a manner much more realistic and involving than Manet’s Boating (1874).

Caillebotte is best known for his paintings of urban Paris, such as The Bridge ‘De l’Europe’ (Le pont de l’Europe) (1876), and Paris Street; Rainy Day (Rue de Paris; temps de pluie, also known as La Place de l’Europe, temps de pluie) (1877). The latter is almost unique among his works for its particularly flat colors and photo-realistic effect which gives the painting its distinctive and modern look, almost akin to American Realists such as Edward Hopper. Many of his urban paintings were quite controversial due to their exaggerated, plunging perspective. In Man on a Balcony (1880), he invites the viewer to share the balcony with his subject and join in observing the scene of the city reaching into the distance, again by using unusual perspective. Showing little allegiance to any one style, many of Caillebotte’s other urban paintings produced in the same period, such as The Place Saint-Augustin (1877), are considerably more impressionistic.

Caillebotte’s still life paintings focus primarily on food, some at table ready to be eaten and some ready to be purchased, as in a series of paintings he made of meat at a butcher shop. He also produced some floral still life paintings, particularly in the 1890s. Rounding out his subject matter, he painted a few nudes, most notably Nude on a Couch (1882), which, though provocative in its realism, is ambivalent in its mood — neither overtly erotic nor suggestive of mythology — themes common to many female nude paintings of that era.

Later life

Caillebotte acquired a property at Petit-Gennevilliers, on the banks of the Seine near Argenteuil, in 1881, and moved there permanently in 1888. He ceased showing his work at age 34 and devoted himself to gardening and to building and racing yachts, and spent much time with his brother, Martial, and his friend Renoir. Renoir often came to stay at Petit-Gennevilliers, and engaged in far ranging discussions on art, politics, literature, and philosophy. Never married, Cailebotte appears to have had a serious relationship with Charlotte Berthier, a woman eleven years his junior and of the lower class, to whom he left a sizable annuity.

Caillebotte’s painting career slowed dramatically in the early 1890s, when he stopped making large canvases. Caillebotte died of pulmonary congestion while working in his garden at Petit-Gennevilliers in 1894 at age 45, and was interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

For many years, Caillebotte’s reputation as a painter was superseded by his reputation as a supporter of the arts. Seventy years after his death, however, art historians began reevaluating his artistic contributions. His striking use of varying perspective is particularly admirable and sets him apart from his peers who may have exceeded him in other artistic areas. His art was largely forgotten until the 1950s when his descendents began to sell the family collection. In 1964, The Art Institute of Chicago acquired Paris Street; Rainy Day, spurring American interest in the artist. By the 1970s, his works were being exhibited again and critically reassessed.

Patron and collector

Caillebotte’s sizable allowance, along with the inheritance he received after the death of his father in 1874 and his mother in 1878, allowed him to paint without the pressure to sell his work. It also allowed him to help fund Impressionist exhibitions and support his fellow artists and friends (including Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro among others) by purchasing their works and, at least in the case of Monet, paying the rent for their studios.

Caillebotte bought his first Monet in 1876 and was especially helpful to that artist’s career and financial survival. He was precise in his sponsorship; notably absent are works by Georges Seurat and Paul Gauguin, or any of the Symbolists. In 1890 he played a major role in assisting Claude Monet in organizing a public subscription and in persuading the French state to purchase Edouard Manet’s 1863 Olympia.

Other interests

In addition, Caillebotte used his wealth to fund a variety of hobbies for which he was quite passionate, including stamp collecting (his name was inscribed in the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, and his collection is now in the British Library), orchid horticulture, yacht building, and even textile design (the women in his paintings Madame Boissière Knitting, 1877, and Portrait of Madame Caillebotte, 1877, may be working on patterns created by Caillebotte).

Caillebotte’s collection

In his will, Caillebotte donated a large collection to the French government. This collection included sixty-eight paintings by various artists: Camille Pissarro (nineteen), Claude Monet (fourteen), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (ten), Alfred Sisley (nine), Edgar Degas (seven), Paul Cézanne (five), and Édouard Manet (four).[20]

Learn More about Impressionist Painter and Art Patron Gustave Caillebotte HERE.