He was an engineer by profession, but also attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He met Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Pierre Auguste Renoir in 1874 and helped organize the first impressionist exhibition in Paris that same year. He participated in later shows and painted some 500 works in a more realistic style than that of his friends. Caillebotte's most intriguing paintings are those of the broad, new Parisian boulevards. The boulevards were painted from high vantage points and were populated with elegantly clad figures strolling with the expressionless intensity of somnambulists, as in Boulevard Vu d'en Haut (1880; private collection, Paris). Caillebotte's superb collection of impressionist paintings was left to the French government on his death. With considerable reluctance the government accepted part of the collection.
Photographs by Mark Harden.
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