Artists and their (supportive) critics: A legacy from Caillebotte and Huysmans

Raboteurs de parquetFrom the exhibition Huysmans  from Degas to Grünewald: As seen by Francesco Vezzoli, in theory running April 3 through July 19 at the Strasbourg Museum of Contemporary Art: Gustave Caillebotte (1848 -1894), “Raboteurs de parquet,” 1875. Oil on canvas, 102 × 147 cm.  Paris, musée d’Orsay, gift of the beneficiaries of Gustave Caillebotte, via the intermediary of Auguste Renoir, his executor, in 1894. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski. Besides his own gifts as a painter, Caillebotte, a fervent supporter and collector of his contemporary, largely Impressionist colleagues, will be forever associated with the State’s initial refusal, under the influence of the Institute, of his gift of 65 of these tableaux. (Shades of the artistic establishment’s obdurate rebuffing of the Abstract Artists of the post-War era, memorably captured by Michel Ragon here.) It took the intervention of no less a statesman than Clemenceau to get the government to cede — and even then, it refused one Manet, three Cezannes, eight Monets, two Renoirs, three Sisleys, and 12 Pissarros. The rest were stuffed into a little room at the Luxembourg until they finally were welcomed to the Louvre in 1928. (Source: “Dictionnaire de la peinture moderne,” Fernand Hazan, 1954.)