Young Man at his Window[caption id="attachment_1190" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Gustave Caillebotte, Young Man at His Window, 1875, private collection[/caption] This painting depicts the artist's brother, René Caillebotte, wearing informal clothes and standing at a balcony from the family home in the Rue de Miromesnil in Paris, looking outwards into Boulevard de Malesherbes. Is René watching the woman on the street? Does he know her? Caillebotte presented this painting at the Impressionism exhibition of 1876. Émile Zola was impressed with technical achievement of the works, but was not enthusiastic about the style: "Photography of reality which is not stamped with the original seal of the painter's talent—that's a pitiful thing." He called the painting "anti-artistic... because of the exactitude of the copying."
Interior, Woman at the Window[caption id="attachment_1189" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Gustave Caillebotte, Interior, Woman at the Window, 1880, Private Collection[/caption] This painting shows a man and woman within a compressed space. The coldness of their emotional distance can be easily sensed despite their physical proximity. The man, seated in an armchair, is absorbed in his newspaper while the woman stands before the window and gazes at the boulevard below, equally consumed by her own thoughts. Across the street there is another figure, who's glimpsing through the parted curtains and perhaps watching the woman. It is a picture that suggests loneliness, isolation, and desire.
Man on a Balcony, Boulevard Haussmann - Gustave Caillebotte[caption id="attachment_1191" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Gustave Caillebotte, Man on a Balcony, Boulevard Haussmann, 1880, private collection[/caption] This painting was sold on an auction in 2000 for $14,306,00. But we don't want to talk money here. The masterpiece captures the view from the artist's Parisian apartment at the corner of the rue Gluck and the boulevard Haussmann, in the 9th arrondissement. Caillebotte here was no longer interested in the depiction of the street, nor in the confrontation between interior and exterior, focusing instead on the perspective of the boulevard and the light effects.
A Balcony, Boulevard Haussmann[caption id="attachment_1192" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Gustave Caillebotte, A Balcony, Boulevard Haussmann, 1880, private collection[/caption] For many years and in part because he never had to sell his work to support himself, Caillebotte's reputation as a painter was overshadowed by his recognition as a supporter of the arts. His art was largely forgotten until the 1950s when his descendents began to sell out 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 luckily were being exhibited again and critically reassessed.
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