Having missed the exhibition “Caillebotte, peintre et jardinier” in Giverny and later become aware of its move to Madrid’s Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, I did not think twice to go on a long weekend with visit of 2 major museums, the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza, which I had visited several times but in the 1990s, on top of the exhibition.
A round trip by TGV & AVE, with the surprise to travel with the same 3 pleasant companions both times, between Paris and Barcelona, and to learn that Mr. Bouju senior could have been one of my literature teacher at the lycée Henri IV, exchanging numerous memories, and showing them the caricatures drawn by my friend Jean-Claude Terrasse there.
The visits of the two museums was a delight – Goya, El Greco, Ribera, Morales, Zurbarán, Velázquez to name only the great Spaniards – (well, one could do with less people, in particular the ones who have not the faintest idea how to look at a painting or the ones who should not even be there in the 1st place, and only God knows why they are here), and so was the visit of the exhibition.
Most exhibitions dedicated to Caillebotte in Paris these last 2 decades were more focusing on the city and/or water (the famous “périssoires”…), even though the theme of the garden had appeared here and there, possibly at the Musée Jacquemart-André (or was it Marmottan?!). The exhibition which took place in 2014 in Caillebotte’s home in Yerres focused on the “water” aspect and the “garden” aspect, which explains that one could find in Madrid some of the paintings presented in Yerres.
One of the most amazing things with Gustave Caillebotte is the originality of his framing, which announce the work of some photographers or film makers. This is very true for his “city” paintings and “water” paintings, but also shows through in his landscapes and gardens.
The Madrid exhibition included several “city” paintings, some “water” ones, 1 or 2 portraits, but mostly gardens and landscapes from Yerres and its surroundings, then those of the Petit-Gennevilliers and the area around (Argenteuil…), to end with various flowers (bouquets, carpets of daisies, greenhouses with orchids…).
Caillebotte who was for quite some time considered as a (fine) amateur and mainly the friend and patron of the impressionists, has finally been rediscovered and found his place among them, like Frédéric Bazille, both meeting an untimely end.