Gustave Caillebotte (1848 –1894) was a French painter, who exposed with the Impressionists, although he painted in a much more realistic manner. Caillebotte was noted for his early interest in photography as an art form.
In 1873, Caillebotte began to seriously study painting, developing an accomplished style. around 1874, he met and befriended several impressionist artists and attended their first exhibition in 1874.
The "Impressionists" had broken away from the academic painters showing in the annual Salons. Caillebotte made his debut in the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876 showing eight paintings, including the Floor-scrapers (1875), his earliest masterpiece, depicting laborers preparing a wooden floor, The painting was considered "vulgar" by some critics and 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.
Although strongly influenced by the Impressionist, Caillebotte's style belongs to the School of Realism. He aimed to paint reality as it existed and as he saw it,
Caillebotte painted many domestic and familial scenes, interiors, and portraits. His country scenes focus on pleasure boating as well as fishing and swimming, and domestic scenes around his country home.
Caillebotte is best known for his paintings of Paris scenes, such as ''Le Pont de L'Europe'' (1876), and ''Paris Street on a Rainy Day'' (1877).
Caillebotte's still-life paintings focus primarily on food, some at a 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 painted a few nudes, most notably Nude on a Couch (1882),
For many years, Caillebotte's reputation as a painter was superseded by his reputation as a patron of the arts. Seventy years after his death, however, art historians began reevaluating his artistic contributions.
His art was largely forgotten until the 1950s, when his descendents began selling the family collection. In 1964, The Art Institute of Chicago acquired ''Paris Street; Rainy Day'', spurring American interest in the artist.
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 ceased showing his work at age 34 and devoted himself to gardening and to building and racing yachts. Caillebotte's painting career slowed dramatically in the early 1890s, when he stopped making large canvases. He died of pulmonary congestion in 1894 at age 45, and was interred at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.