Happy Birthday, Gustave Caillebotte!
Born August 19, 1848, Caillebotte was a bit of a triple-threat: a leading Impressionist painter, a yachtsman as well as an accomplished gardener. Monsieur Caillebotte surely would have appreciated this perfect, breezy seaside day that we have here today in Salem.
We are particularly pleased to celebrate Caillebotte’s birthday as a selection of his paintings and boat models will be on view at PEM this fall as part of Impressionists on the Water, an exciting new exhibition coming to us from the fine folks at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Caillebotte painted a number of river views with yachts at anchor or in motion at the Gennevilliers property he owned with his brother, Martial. The right foreground of the painting below shows Caillebotte at the helm of his own yacht, Roastbeef, which he designed in 1891. He depicts himself with only one finger on the tiller, highlighting the ease of steering his modern boat.
In 1860, Caillebotte’s family bought an estate in Yerres and the famous Impressionist painted around 80 paintings there, until the sale of the estate in 1879. Yerres, a small, quiet tributary of the Seine, is also where Caillebotte discovered his great enthusiasm for boating. Canoes of the type shown below were propelled by two-bladed kayak paddles and were well suited to the shallow waters of the river though difficult to handle and prone to capsizing.
The sunflowers that fill the foreground of the work below exuberantly display Caillebotte’s interest in gardening, a pursuit which preoccupied him during the 1880s following a dispute with fellow Impressionist, Edgar Degas. The blossoms frame the view of the public bathhouses on the shore of the Seine at Argenteuil, a view seen from Caillebotte’s home across the river at Petit-Gennevillier where he had a studio and a large greenhouse.
Opening November 9, Impressionists on the Water illuminates the importance that access to the sea and France’s extensive inland waterways played in the development of one of the world’s most robust artistic movements. We look forward to welcoming you to our headlining fall exhibition…but, in the meanwhile, get out and enjoy this perfect Caillebotte day!