Caillebotte bequest



Impressionism, a historical reconstruction:

Gustave Caillebotte



Gustave Caillebotte was partaker of the ‘impressionist’ expositions in 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880 and 1882. Caillebotte also was an important supporter of the Impressionists and bought many of their works. 19 of them were exhibited at the ‘impressionist’ expositions (R90II,p286). Already 1876/11/03 Caillebotte made the first version of his testament in which he offered his collection to the French State on the condition they were exhibited all together in Musée du Luxembourg. In his will he had asked Renoir to be executor testamentary and to take 1 picture (he choose a Degas↓). So eventually the bequest consisted of 67 art-works, including probably 5 of Cézanne, 7 of Degas, 4 of Manet, 16 of Monet, 18 of Pissarro, 8 of Renoir and 9 of Sisley.
On this page you will find the pictures from this bequest, first the choice of Renoir, than the accepted works and than the rejected works. You will also find some more pictures that once were owned by Gustave Caillebotte. The pictures are rendered by form. Later on you will find some information on the characteristics of his collection, the excecution of the will and an account on how many works of which artists the bequest consisted.
Note: If you double click on the first (of a cluster of) pictures and then click on full screen, you can create a slideshow. On a smartphone or laptop you can also zoom in. Enjoy!


The choice of Renoir:
For his work as executor testamentary Renoir was allowed to choose an (important) painting of his choice. Renoir choose a pastel of Degas (CR450↓). 1898/12/12 Renoir sold this pastel again. This cooled down the relationship between Renoir and Degas. (R5,p218;R31,p308;M23)


Probably 38 of the works from the Caillebotte bequest were accepted by the French State. They first were exhibited in Musée du Luxembourg, later in the Louvre, then in Musée Jeu de Paume and are now in Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It probably consisted of 2 works of Cézanne, 7 of Degas, 2 of Manet, 8 of Monet, 7 of Pissarro, 6 of Renoir and 6 of Sisley.



Probably 29 of the works from Caillebotte bequest were rejected by the French State. Probably 3 of Cézanne, 2 of Manet, 8 of Monet, 11 of Pissarro, 2 of Renoir, 3 of Sisley. Note: I have no suggestions for the rejected works of Sisley.



Works that were once in the Caillebotte collection:
Of some works it is known that they were in the Caillebotte collection at one time. Probably they were not part of the bequest.

Characteristics of the Caillebotte collection:
A striking characteristic of the Caillebotte collection is that it only consisted of works of 7 artists. There were no works of Cassatt, Gauguin, Guillaumin, Morisot, nor any other partaker of the ‘impressionist’ expositions. Another characteristic is that most of the works were made in the 1870s, just a few were from the 1860s (namely of Manet) and a few of the 1880s (namely of Sisley). This means that Caillebotte didn’t buy older works after he me the ‘impressionists’ around 1874. The dates of his purchases are not always clear, but most of them were in the 1870s. This means he reduced his purchases in the 1880s and in consequence reduced his support of his colleagues. We saw already that Caillebotte did loan 19 works to the ‘impressionist’ expositions. But later on he bought another 14 works that probably have been exhibited at these expositions.

The execution of the will:
1894/02/21 Gustave Caillebotte died. By then he owned 68 art-works, including probably 5 of Cézanne, 8 of Degas, 4 of Manet, 16 of Monet, 18 of Pissarro, 8 of Renoir and 9 of Sisley. In his will he had asked Renoir to be executor testamentary and to take 1 picture (he choose a Degas). So eventually the bequest consisted of 67 art-works, including 7 works of Degas. 1894/03/11 Renoir informed Henri Roujon, director of Fine Arts of this legacy. There were several arguments against accepting this bequest. Namely Gérôme and Benjamin Constant were opposed. 1895/02 Léonce Bénédite, the head curator of the Musée du Luxembourg sent a letter to Pissarro and Sisley with a proposal of a selection. After several discussions the large part of the legacy, consisting of 38 art-works, was accepted in the Autumn of 1895 and officially signed 1896/02 and displayed in Musée du Luxembourg for the first time 1897/02/07 (R166,p279; or the 9th R47,p115). The Journal des artistes reviewed: “this exhibition is the definitive settlement with the so called impressionist painting art. All that represent her here, excluding 2 or 3, are incompetant.” (R15,p11).
The rejected 29 works were kept in the hands of Gustave his brother Martial (1854-1910), who offered them again to the State in 1904 and 1908. When at last in 1928 the State expressed the wish to received them, the widow of Martial Caillebotte refused. These works found their way to various musea and private collections throughout the world.

A puzzle: Of how many works of which artists did the bequest consist?
The sources are not quite clear of how many works the bequest of Gustave Caillebotte consisted and of how many works of which artists. Sometimes the suggested numbers contradict (even within one source). Rewald refers to a discussion (R1,p589) and Kostenevich mentions that the given numbers can differ a little (R15,p25). On one page Rewald mentions that the bequest consisted of 65 works, but counting the number of works of the artists it were 38 accepted and 29 rejected = 67 works. Denvir renders the same numbers (R5) and Kostenevich mentions a total of 68 (R15,p25).
The sources agree that there were 5 works of Cézanne in the bequest (iR194;R1;R5;R15; though Monneret only mentions 4 titles; M88I,p94). Though Kostenevich suggests that all were rejected (R15,p25) the other sources agree that 2 were accepted (iR194;M1;R1;R88). So, this would mean that 3 were rejected; this is confirmed by the musea (FWN637+722+926;M21;M22;M25). One source is less sure of FWN926 (R174,p102+301), Monneret leaves out FWN637 (R88I,p94).
The sources agree that the bequest included 7 works of Degas and that they were all accepted (R1;R88;R5;R15;R47); Monneret specifies that they were all pastels (R88I,p93); this is confirmed by Musée d’Orsay and Joconde (M1;iR23). Note that Renoir had chosen 1 work of Degas, so originally the collection consisted of 8 pastels of Degas.
The sources agree that there were 4 works of Manet in the bequest and that 2 were accepted and 2 rejected (R210;M1;R1;R5;R15;R88).
Some sources write that the bequest consisted of 14 pictures from Monet (R5;R15,p25), some suggest it were 15 pictures (R15,p11;R88). But Wildenstein makes clear that 8 works were accepted and 8 were rejected (R22), so the bequest must have consisted of 16 works of Monet, this is affirmed by Rewald (R1,p572). Note: Monneret leaves out CR519 as being rejected (R99I,p93).
The sources are quite univocal on the works of Pissarro: the bequest consisted of 18 works of which 7 were accepted and 11 rejected. Alexia de Buffévent writes that the 18 works of Pissarro in the bequest consisted of 17 canvases and one gouache (=CR1625) (R116I,p256;R116III,p939). Only Kostenevich suggests that there were 19 works of Pissarro in the bequest (R15,p25).
Monneret renders 6 titles of Renoir that were accepted; this corresponds the information I found on the website of Musée d’Orsay and Joconde and is confirmed by Raeburn and Rewald (R88I,p93;M1;iR23;R31;R1). Sources agree that 2 works of Renoir were rejected. Monneret renders the titles: La Place Saint Georges + Vue de Montmartre (R88I,p93;R15,p11). These titles compare the works exhibited as 3IE-1877, no.196+197, which I render as uncertain options. If my suggestions are correct this would mean that 5 of these works had been exhibited by Renoir in 1877. If it is correct that 6 works were accepted and 2 rejected, this would mean that the bequest consisted of 8 works of Renoir, which is confirmed by Rewald (R1,p572). Some other sources suggest that the bequest consisted of 10 works of Renoir (R5;R15,p25).
Of Sisley the bequest consisted of 9 works (R1;R5;R15;R88), 6 works were accepted (M1;R166;R1; note: Monneret leaves out CR544 (R88I,p93), so this would mean 3 works were rejected. But I couldn’t find additional information on which works were rejected, so I couldn’t give any suggestions.


My main sources are the Catalogues Raisonné on Monet (1996=R22IV,p1045), on Pissarro (R116III,p939), on Manet (R120=iR193,p25), on Cézanne (iR194); the catalogues of the ‘impressionist’ expositions (R2;R90I;iR1); other main sources are info from the Musée d’Orsay (=M1), Joconde (=iR23), Berson (R90II,p286), Rewald (R1,p572), Moffett (R2,p244), Denvir (R5,p197+198), Kostenevich (R15,p11+25), Raeburn (R31,p23+306), Torres (R47,p115), Monneret (R88I,p93+94), Alexia de Buffévent (2005=R116I,p256+CCP229), Stevens (1992=R166,p276=278). For other general references (=R) see. For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.


Recommanded citation: “Gustave Caillebotte bequest. Last modified 2023/05/16.