The Getty Museum acquires the emblematic “Young man at his window” by Gustave Caillebotte at auction

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Young Man at His Window, 1876, Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848-1894), Oil on canvas, 116 x 81 cm (45 11/16 x 31 7/8 in.)

Curd Young man at his window sold for over $ 53 million at Christie’s evening sale on November 11. The sole proprietorship showcased Impressionist works from the collection of Dallas oil magnate Edwin L. Cox, who died last year.

The J. Paul Getty Museum acquired at auction Thursday in New York Young man at his window, 1876, considered to be the most important painting by French impressionist Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848-1894) in private hands.

The large-scale painting, widely regarded as a masterpiece of modern realism and a key moment in Impressionism history, will be on display at the Getty Center Museum in 2022.

“We expect from Caillebotte Young man at his window become a new star in our popular Impressionist gallery, ”said Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This extraordinary painting exemplifies Caillebotte’s carefully constructed and edged urban realism – so distinct from the informal landscape aesthetic of artists like Monet and Renoir – and will allow us to present our audience with a more complete picture of the art associated with it. ‘impressionist movement. ”

Young man at his window represents a pivotal moment in the beginning of Caillebotte’s career. He exhibited it with praise at the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876, when he was 27 years old. It was his public debut as a painter, and among his submissions, this painting received the most critical praise, after his famous Floor scrapers (1875, Musée d’Orsay, Paris).

Young man at his window is the culminating work of a trio of domestic interior scenes featuring his immediate family, the other two being Young man playing the piano (1876; Artizon Museum, Tokyo), representing his brother Martial; and Breakfast (1876; private collection), representing his brother René, their widowed mother and a servant. Caillebotte presented the three as part of his debut at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1876, with Floor scrapers.

The painting represents a young man in a dark suit, modeled by the artist’s brother René, standing in front of a large open window in the well-appointed apartment on the top floor of the Caillebotte family in Paris. With his back to the viewer, his feet wide apart and his hands in his pockets, he watches a sunny street scene tightly framed by tall apartment buildings. A plush red satin armchair in the foreground on the right suggests that he has been sitting at this window for some time and has been suddenly awakened. Her attention appears to be fixed on a lone woman crossing the street below, who, despite her small size, is framed so emphatically by the painting’s plunging perspective that viewers have been mesmerized ever since.

“With dramatic lighting, meticulous execution and a very original composition that brilliantly combines the domestic interior and the Parisian street scene, Young man at his window is a recognized masterpiece from the most inventive period of Caillebotte’s career, ”says Scott Allan, curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “Caillebotte’s painting represented the most innovative form of modern urban realism in the mid-1870s. Such realism was a key ingredient of the larger ‘impressionist’ project, especially among the more ambitious figure painters of the group of independent exhibition, and he anticipated many decades, as academics have recognized, significant developments in photography and film. Young man at his window remains a modern and invigorating work, whose visual acuity is matched only by its psychological tension and ambiguity.

Fascinating viewers since its inception, the painting has featured prominently in almost every major Caillebotte retrospective since 1894. It has been extensively discussed and reproduced in scholarly literature.

As well as being a productive painter, Caillebotte was a dedicated patron, collector, boater, horticulturist, and philatelist who established himself as a central protagonist and supporter of the Impressionist movement. In his own art he made important contributions in the genres of portraiture, landscape and still life, but he is best known for his paintings of modern city life, which were among the most original and ambitious of the genre. and caused a sensation in the independent collective exhibitions of the Impressionists.

Caillebotte was born into a wealthy family in Paris in 1848. Although he obtained a law degree in 1868, he never practiced. After his studies and a brief period of military service during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Caillebotte studied art in the studio of the painter Léon Bonnat (1833-1922), and in 1873 he was admitted to the School of Fine Arts. Arts in Paris.

Despite these conventional academic beginnings, Caillebotte developed his first significant professional relationships outside the artistic establishment, becoming close friends with Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Giuseppe de Nittis (1846-1884), Henri Rouart (1833-1912). ) and other progressive artists. . In 1875, his painting Floor scrapers was refused by the Salon jury. This refusal marks the end of Caillebotte’s offer for a conventional artistic career and causes his engagement with the Impressionist group, which sent him an invitation. The next year, Floor scrapers was presented with Young man at his window and six other paintings from the second Impressionist exhibition.

Caillebotte’s debut in 1876, which drew critical attention, marked the beginning of a long collaboration that saw him participate in five of the eight Impressionist exhibitions held between 1874 and 1886, establishing him not only as one of the dominant artists but also as the main financier, promoter and organizer of the group. The death of his father in 1874 had left Caillebotte with an important legacy, which he invested in the group, acquiring paintings from his colleagues and financially helping some of them, notably Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Camille Pissarro ( 1830-1903). Caillebotte loaned works from his growing collection, which included paintings by Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), to the Impressionist exhibitions, and he was also actively involved in the organization of these exhibitions, by personally selecting participants, supervising the display and paying for the advertisements. By the end of the 1870s, less than five years after his debut, Caillebotte had become both a central player and a driving force behind the movement.

The second half of the 1870s was also the most creative period in Caillebotte’s career as a painter. It was during this period that he produced his most famous paintings, including The Bridge of Europe (1876; Petit Palais Museum, Geneva), Street of Paris ; Rainy day (1877; Art Institute of Chicago), and Young man at his window (1876). In close dialogue with Degas in particular, Caillebotte created interior and exterior scenes of urban life which were a major contribution to the modern realist movement in France and continue to attract the attention of viewers with their bold perspectives, precise details. and their vibrant lighting.

It is Caillebotte’s first work to enter the Getty’s collection, where it will become a centerpiece of the Impressionist Paintings Gallery and a major attraction for visitors to the Getty Center.


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