An Estuary of the Seine
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 20 3/4 x 25 in. (52.7 x 63.5 cm) Framed: 31 1/4 × 35 3/4 in. (79.4 × 90.8 cm)
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Woods
Accession No.: 1980.26
On view in the Edward A. and Inge Maser Gallery.
Born into a wealthy Parisian family, Gustave Caillebotte served in the military in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), and then pursued both the study of law and artistic training. He seems to have spent only a brief period at the École des Beaux-Arts before leaving there and joining up with the Impressionist group, becoming an official member of the Impressionists in 1876. Not only did he take part in most of the Impressionist exhibitions, he was also a driving force in organizing some of them and helped hold the group together against forces of disagreement and disarray. In the early 1880s he moved out of Paris to the suburb of Petit-Gennevilliers, near Argenteuil. An Estuary of the Seine most likely dates from this period, when Caillebotte was turning away from urban scenes and other realist subject matter toward pure landscape motifs. Though he lived only to age forty-five, he acquired a formidable collection of Impressionist paintings, which he eventually bequeathed to the French state. This bequest became the basis for the Musée d’Orsay’s extensive Impressionist holdings and helped to solidify the group’s canonical status at a time when there were still many doubters.