The Alte Nationalgalerie currently presents the French painter and patron of the Impressionists Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894). The exhibition shows his pioneering work “Rue de Paris, temps de pluie”, completed in 1877 and on show for the first time in Berlin.
Gustave Caillebotte was one of the central protagonists of French Impressionism and yet he is still one of those artists to be discovered today. His fame was initially based on his role as a patron of the arts, but it was only late on that he gained full recognition as a painter.
With Caillebotte’s painting “Street in Paris, Rainy Weather” (“Rue de Paris, temps de pluie”), completed in 1877, an Impressionist icon moved into the Alte Nationalgalerie. It is regarded as the artist’s major work and is one of the flagships of the Art Institute of Chicago. The monumental painting has seldom travelled to Europe, and Berlin is the first city to see it. The fact that “Street in Paris, Rainy Weather” is now being shown here can be described as a sensation and is based on a unique international cooperation: while the Art Institute of Chicago has borrowed Edouard Manet’s “In the Winter Garden” for a large monographic exhibition, the Alte Nationalgalerie receives the masterpiece of an artist who is not himself represented in its collection. This means that both the German and the American public can enjoy an exhibition with a rarity value.
Caillebotte’s pioneering work, with its almost life-size figures and unconventional perspective, was presented at the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877 and has lost none of its suggestive appeal to this day. “Rue de Paris, temps de pluie” stands for the Impressionists’ new vision as well as Caillebotte’s appropriation of modern urban motifs. Selectively selected studies and preliminary works for his main work make the work process of this atypical Impressionist comprehensible in the exhibition.
Caillebotte’s paintings open up new approaches to French Impressionism. Not the purely painterly appearance is in the foreground with him, his pictures captivate with their bold perspectives and constructed pictorial spaces. In particular, the seemingly random detail and the striking immediacy of the depiction underline the modernity.
The focused exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie also illuminates Caillebotte’s patronage. The 29-year-old, who was only 29 in 1877, was not only the youngest member of the Impressionists, but also the most active of this group. A man of considerable wealth, he played a leading role in financing and organizing the first group exhibitions. On this occasion he often loaned works by fellow painters such as Renoir, Manet, Degas, Cezanne and Mo-net from his own collection. The intensive network of Impressionists, in the midst of which Caillebotte was a friend and patron, becomes visible in the exhibition of the Alte Nationalgalerie. The special loan from Chicago makes the local collection of French Impressionists readable by showing the numerous references between Caillebotte and his comrades-in-arms.
Caillebotte’s donation of his important collection to the French state ultimately helped Impressionism, despite some resistance, to gain no recognition from public collections. Caillebotte’s work shows a parallel to that of Hugo von Tschudis, the then director of the Nationalgalerie, who at the same time realized this through his acquisition policy in Berlin.
WHERE? Alte Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Bodestraße 1-3, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
WHEN? Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun 10 am –6 pm, Thu 10 am – 8 pm, Mon closedZur Alten Nationalgalerie
Image caption: Gustave Caillebotte, Rue de Paris, temps de pluie (Straße in Paris, Regenwetter), 1877, Öl auf Leinwand, 212,2?× 276,2 cm, Art Institute of Chicago, © Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection
Gustave Caillebotte – Alte Nationalgalerie – Art Museum Berlin – Impressionists Berlin – Impressionism – ART at Berlin