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Creating a Scene to Make an Impression: How Gustave Caillebotte and his Street Scenes of Haussmannian Modernity Support Impressionism Without Subscription

During Napoleon III’s Second Empire (1852 to 1870), Georges Haussmann renovated medieval Paris into a modern metropolis. This urban renewal, Haussmannization, impacted not only city infrastructure, but also the fine arts. Painters of the
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  Creating a Scene to Make an Impression: How Gustave Caillebotte and his Street Scenes of Haussmannian Modernity Support Impressionism  Without Subscription ISABEL CABEZAS University of Notre Dame, Class of 2017  ABSTRACT During Napoleon IIIÕs Second Empire (1852 to 1870), Georges Haussmann renovated medieval Paris into a modern metropolis. This urban renewal, Haussmannization, impacted not only city infrastructure, but also the fine arts. Painters of the Impressionist movement (1870s and 1880s), embraced the art critic Charles BaudelaireÕs idea of modernitŽ by walking through the city to observe their ordinary surroundings, painting with loose  brushstrokes to convey fleeting moments, and sometimes working en plein air to experiment with the effects of natural light throughout the day. The Salon rejected this new style of painting that did not conform to its standards, so the artists responded by establishing their own group Exhibitions. This group could not have flourished without its own member Gustave Caillebotte. His financial status enabled him to easily fund many of the Impressionist Exhibitions and to collect his friendsÕ paintings, both of  which helped to stir a curiosity about the new art movement. This paper     ________________________________________________BOWDOIN JOURNAL OF ART, 2018   2 reveals how Caillebotte participated in, yet also set himself apart from the Impressionist movement. While Caillebotte included his own works in the Impressionist Exhibitions, his style does not completely align with typical Impressionist approaches: he celebrates Haussmannian architecture, which the older members avoided, because he was too young to know medieval Paris; he paints with calculated brushstrokes, a result of his Academic training at the ƒcole des Beaux-Arts; and he utilizes photography, a recent technological development, to capture exact details for his preparatory drawings. I propose a new way of looking at CaillebotteÕs street scenes and suggest the recognition of sub-scenes within these works. Caillebotte uses a subtle compositional prop to vertically divide his paintings in half, a device that, in conjunction with the fl‰neurÕs gaze, allows him to accommodate separate yet simultaneous depictions of the built environment and the motion of everyday human activity. Introduction 19th-century Paris witnessed a redesign of its urban fabric and a revolution in styles of painting. Under Napoleon IIIÕs Second Empire (1852-70), Baron Georges Haussmann transformed medieval Paris into a modern metropolis in an attempt to improve municipal sanitation and transportation, enhance urban beauty, and to facilitate governmental control over the city. The impact of this extensive redesign of ParisÕ urban fabric extended to quotidian activities, as well as to the fine arts. French painting, for example, became less calculated and predictable. French artists responded to HaussmannÕs transformation of Paris by straying from accepted norms and the Salon juryÕs approval of genre and technique. 1  Impressionist painters took scenes of ordinary, contemporary life as their subject matter, to provide viewers with an impression, or sense, of the 1  Burstein, Jessica. "Visual Art." In The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Culture, edited by Celia Marshik, 145-7. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. ÒThe Paris Salon was the  juried biennial exhibition run by the Academy of Fine Arts, an outgrowth of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture (founded 1684). The Salon constituted national aesthetic standards...there  was no charge for entry, and the public could absorb what was deemed fine art."     ________________________________________________BOWDOIN JOURNAL OF ART, 2018   3 encounter, and innovatively extended the frame and plane of the narrative to include the viewer. Gustave CourbetÕs mid-19th-century Realism movement Ñ in which he depicted scenes of labor and ordinary life instead of allegories or historical scenes meant to advance political agendas, and also showed in his own gallery after Salon rejection Ñ sowed the seeds of the Impressionism. 2  This generation of French painters could not survive  without its own member, Gustave Caillebotte. Emerging just after Haussmannization, Impressionism recorded fleeting moments of an updated Paris. Citizens had an unfamiliar streetscape to learn and explore, one of wide boulevards, sewers, gas lights, parks, and uniform six-story buildings; such was the physical environment of Haussmannian modernity. Responding to the upgraded infrastructure of Haussmannization, the Impressionists used novel techniques, such as loose  brushwork and a participatory point of view, to produce an avant-garde conception of the city. Paintings now depicted ParisiansÕ movement and exploration of new spaces, as if the viewer had participated in the moment. This method broke with the style and traditional hierarchy of subjects that the Salon favored: scenes of antiquity or historical narratives, followed by portraits, landscapes, genre scenes, and still lives, all in the classical style. As a group of Salon-rejected artists who sought to create a cultural space for this unconventional style of art and had no obligation to a dictated taste, the Impressionists broke from the norm as they recorded Parisian interactions,  views, and relationships that anyone could access and observe in the street. In this paper I will examine how Gustave Caillebotte depicted Haussmanian modernity in his paintings of Parisian streetscapes. Having  begun his artistic career as an Academically trained painter, CaillebotteÕs life provide a series of contradictions that both place him within and set him 2  When the Salon rejected some of his paintings in 1855, Courbet persisted to display his works and set up his own gallery, The Pavilion of Realism , just outside the  Exposition Universelle .     ________________________________________________BOWDOIN JOURNAL OF ART, 2018   4 apart from the Impressionist movement. How his life straddled belonging and disengagement can account for the sub-scenes present in his street scenes that focus equally on architecture and human experience. These sub-scenes form the foundations of my case for why Caillebotte does not align  with the typical Impressionist in belonging, style, and technique. Transformation and Conversion Paris underwent a major redesign during the Second Empire of Napoleon III to relieve the city from its dark, dangerous, and dirty state. Sewage systems aided in improving sanitation, and green spaces and  widened boulevards allowed for better traffic flow and made walking an enjoyable activity. The installation of street lamps, due to the advent of electricity, meant that people could safely stroll during the night; artificial light made for an entirely new experience of the city. Uninterrupted, straight streets had not existed before 1852, with the exception of Òceremonial rarities like the rue de Rivoli. But under the  boulevard program of Baron Haussmann, the look of this street Ñ incredibly  broad, bullet-straight, and seemingly stretching to infinity Ñ became the pervasive hallmark of the new city.Ó 3  By 1870, the streets of Paris were unrecognizable to anyone who lived in the city before Haussmannization (Figs. 1-3). In addition to redesigning the layout of Paris, Baron Haussmann introduced a new architectural style to unify the urban landscape. The consistent nature of these structures, that are so identifiably Parisian today, erased and replaced the charm and mystery of Medieval Paris. Commenting on how one building indistinguishably became the next, CaillebotteÕs close 3  Varnedoe, Kirk. Gustave Caillebotte .New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. 84-5.     ________________________________________________BOWDOIN JOURNAL OF ART, 2018   5 friend and fellow Impressionist Auguste Renoir complained that they appeared Òcold and lined up like soldiers at a review.Ó 4  As uniformity replaced variety, HaussmannÕs expensive apartments became a bourgeois commodity. Gustave Caillebotte enjoyed the comforts of a well-to-do Parisian family throughout his life. Born on August 19, 1848 to Martial Caillebotte, the head of a military textile company, and CŽleste Daufresne, he spent his first 18 years in the upper-class 10th arrondissement on the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, just outside of ParisÕ city walls. The family also had an extensive garden property in Yerres, a southeastern suburb of Paris,  which provided the opportunity for boating on a river of the same name. In 1866, the family moved to their newly built home at the corner of 77 rue de Miromesnil and 13 rue de Lisbonne, in the 8th arrondissement that Haussmann had just refurbished. Having studied classics at LycŽe Louis Le Grand, Gustave Caillebotte later graduated with a masterÕs law degree in 1868 and received his law license in 1870. 5  He briefly served in the Garde Nationale Mobile during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1); two small paintings reveal this time as the start of his artistic career. 6  ÒHe joined LŽon Bonnat's studio in 1872 and passed the entrance examination for the ƒcole des Beaux-Arts on 18 March 1873, though the ƒcoleÕs records make no mention of his work there, and his attendance seems to have been short-lived.Ó 7  The reputable guidance of Bonnat, a naturalist painter, elevated CaillebotteÕs hobby to a serious 4   Rubin, James H. ÒRenovation and Modern Viewpoints: Roads, Bridges, and City Spaces.Ó In  Impressionism and    the Modern Landscape: Productivity, Technology, and Urbanization from  Manet to Van Gogh ,17-37. Berkeley:   University of California Press, 2008. 34.  5  Berhaut, Marie. "Caillebotte, Gustave." In The Grove Dictionary of Art  ,edited by Jane Turner, 53-7. New York: St. Martin's, 2000. 54. 6  Chardeau, Gilles. ÒCaillebotte: A Biographical Chronology.Ó In Gustave Caillebotte: The PainterÕs  Eye ,edited by Mary Morton and George T. M. Shackelford, 233-49. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 234. 7  Berhaut, Caillebotte ,54.
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