Artist
Gustave Caillebotte
French painter

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Gustave Caillebotte
French painter
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Birth Date

August 19, 1848

Death Date

February 21, 1894

svdgrift's picture

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​Gustave Caillebotte's hobbies were building yachts and collecting art.

Gustave is definitely not the most famous French painter ever, but his family was pretty well known. Born in 1848 to a very upper-class Parisian family, Gustave and his family lived on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis in the type of house big enough to turn into a dozen unaffordable studios. The family also owned a large property about 12 miles south of Paris, which is where Gustave began to draw and paint.

At the age of 20, Gustave earned his law degree and 2 years later, his license to practice law, but shortly after that the the Franco-Prussian war started. Fortunately, this war only lasted for 9 months after which he returned home and continued to practice law for a while. It wasn't really his thing so instead he visited the studio of Leon Bonnat and began to study painting. His parents were totally OK with this. They had some space left in their big mansion where they converted one of the rooms into Gustave's first real studio. His parents even sent him to the Ecole des Beaux-arts (French for art academy), but apparently he didn't spend much time there. He preferred hanging out with the cool kids and befriended several artists who were also working outside the academy. In 1876, he was part of the second Impressionist exhibition, together with his new buddies Degas, Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro. Who needs art school anyway?

What separated Gustave from his famous friends was his gaze. While most of his friends focused on sexy can-can dancers and other typical Parisian scenes, Gustave painted the gloomy boulevards in the rain. He preferred to paint men dressed in black suits, finding their way through a Paris under construction after the war. Obviously, that wasn't what people wanted to see, let alone buy to decorate their living room. In 1874, Gustave’s dad died and he inherited his fortune, so who cares if he didn't sell his paintings? He could paint whatever he wanted! This inheritance also allowed him to become a major art collector. A large part of the Musee d’Orsay’s Impressionist collection used to be his, and his stamp collection is now in the British Museum. It is also said that he used his inheritance to financially support his painter friends.

Despite not really selling any paintings, thus not really having a job to begin with, Gustave retired at the age of 34 and devoted himself to gardening and building and racing yachts. He lived with his mother until he was 39 and never married, but they do say he had a mistress. This alleged mistress was Charlotte Berthier, she was not only very young, but was also from a lower class. Maybe he was afraid to tell mom? Others say he might not have been super hetero. Since his most famous paintings are full of beautiful men, sometimes naked and/or sweaty, some historians suggest he might have been gay. One of my favorite paintings to support this statement is Boating Party (Oarsman in a Top Hat). A scene for which Gustave must have sat down in a tiny boat, together with this handsome oarsman. The oarsman is wearing a fancy suit and hat, but really, it's his crotch that's not to be missed.

 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte (French: [ɡystav kɑjbɔt]; 19 August 1848 – 21 February 1894) was a French painter, member and patron of the artists known as Impressionists, although he painted in a more realistic manner than many others in the group. Caillebotte was noted for his early interest in photography as an art form.

Early life

Gustave Caillebotte was born on 19 August 1848 to an upper-class Parisian family living in the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. His father, Martial Caillebotte (1799–1874), was the inheritor of the family's military textile business and was also a judge at the Seine department's Tribunal de commerce. Caillebotte's father was twice widowed before marrying Caillebotte's mother, Céleste Daufresne (1819–1878), who had two more sons after Gustave: René (1851–1876) and Martial (1853–1910). Caillebotte was born at home on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis in Paris, and lived there until 1866, when his father had a home built on 77 rue de Miromesnil. Beginning in 1860, the Caillebotte family began spending many of their summers in Yerres, a town on the Yerres River about 12 miles (20 km) south of Paris, where Martial Caillebotte, Sr. had purchased a large property. It probably was around this time that Caillebotte began to draw and paint.

Caillebotte earned a law degree in 1868 and a license to practice law in 1870, and he also was an engineer. Shortly after his education, he was drafted to fight in the Franco-Prussian war, and served from July 1870 to March 1871 in the Garde Nationale Mobile de la Seine.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Gustave Caillebotte.