How the ‘Floor Scrapers’ found a home

June 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Floor Scrapers | Gustave Caillebotte | Musee d'Orsay

One of just about everybody’s favorite paintings — “Floor Scrapers” by Gustave Caillebotte — is visiting for a few months as part of the “Birth of Impressionism” exhibition at the de Young Museum — a blockbuster loan from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, which is undergoing renovation.

It comes with a great story.

Caillebotte was a talented painter. He was also from a wealthy family. That enabled him to encourage his fellow Impressionists, long before their work found favor, by buying their paintings. He assembled a remarkable collection of work by his friends: Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Cezanne. When Caillebotte died in 1894 he left about 60 paintings from his collection to the French government. But Impressionism was still a marginal movement, and the authorities were reluctant to accept the bequest.

With the involvement of Renoir and Monet, an agreement was eventually reached and 40 paintings from Caillebotte’s collection were exhibited in a new wing of the Musee du Luxembourg. Among them are many of the jewels of French Impressionism. That includes Caillebotte’s own “Floor Scrapers,” which, at Renoir’s insistence, was added to the bequest.

New exhibition: “The Caillebotte Brothers’ Private World

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