Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)
Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

Voiliers sur la Seine à Argenteuil

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)
Voiliers sur la Seine à Argenteuil
bears signature 'G Caillebotte' (lower right)
oil on canvas
28 7/8 x 17 in. (75 x 43.2 cm.)
Painted in 1893
Estate of the artist.
Private collection, France.
M. Berhaut, Caillebotte l'impressionniste, Lausanne, 1968, p. 57, no. 27 (illustrated in color, p. 69).
M. Berhaut, Caillebotte, sa vie et son oeuvre, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint des peintures et pastels, Paris, 1978, p. 221, no. 416 (illustrated; illustrated again in color, p. 69).
J. Chardeau, Les dessins de Caillebotte, Paris, 1989, pp. 94-100 (illustrated, p. 100).
M. Berhaut, Caillebotte, sa vie et son oeuvre, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint des peintures et pastels, Paris, 1994, p. 246, no. 471 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition rétrospective d'oeuvres de Gustave Caillebotte, June 1894, p. 5, no. 41 (titled Bateau, étude).
Paris, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Rétrospective Gustave Caillebotte, May-July 1951, no. 83.
London, Wildenstein & Co., Ltd., Gustave Caillebotte, 1848-1894, June-July 1966, p. 47, no. 47.
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., A Loan Exhibition of Paintings: Gustave Caillebotte, September-October 1968, no. 66.
Marcq-en-Baroeul, Fondation Septentrion, Gustave Caillebotte, October 1982-January 1983, no. 30.

Lot Essay

Gustave Caillebotte was a passionate supporter, financial and otherwise, of the Impressionist artists and their exhibitions. The group was a cohesive one until the late 1870s when internal strife began to brew among its members--namely the separating factions of Degas, Manet and Renoir, causing the Salon system to fragment and falter. Due to these complications and frustrations, Caillebotte reduced his involvement with the movement and in 1881 settled in Petit-Gennevilliers, just across the Seine from Argenteuil.

It was here that Caillebotte cultivated his interest in sailboats and even became involved in their design and construction. As Thomas P. Lee has observed:

An interesting aspect of Caillebotte's life is his keen interest in yatching and boat design. Not only did he take great pleasure in the competitive sport, but also he enjoyed painting it. While Caillebotte would remember the boating scenes of Monet and Renoir, his interest is always more directly related to the shapes of boats, masts and sails (K.T. Varnedoe and T.P. Lee, Gustave Caillebotte, A Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1976, p. 179).

Voiliers sur la Seine à Argenteuil features Caillebotte's own boat, the "Roastbeef", which he successfully raced in several regattas in the early 1890s (fig. 1). While Caillebotte's boating pictures of the 1880s often reflected the technical experiments of his fellow Impressionists, those made in the closing years of his life, including the present work, have a more individual approach in the handling of the medium and the use of diagonals. The brushstroke has become bolder and more schematic, as seen in the foreground of Voiliers sur la Seine à Argenteuil, where the thick impasto denotes the rippling current. Examination of a squared preparatory drawing for the present work indicates that Caillebotte accentuated the verticality of the composition through the strong diagonal of the main sail, whose tip rises forcefully toward the upper left edge (see J. Chardeau, Les dessins de Caillebotte, Paris, 1989, p. 98).

The present painting bears the signature 'G Caillebotte', applied after the death of the artist by Martial, Gustave's brother, who along with Pierre-Auguste Renoir was the executor of his estate. In the absence of an estate stamp Martial and Renoir applied Caillebotte's name, in a manner distinctly unlike his actual signature, to the canvases remaining in the studio.

(fig. 1) The "Roastbeef" coming ashore at Petit Gennevilliers, 1891-1892. Private collection. (photo by Martial Caillebotte)

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