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  • Gustave Caillebotte
    Aug 19, 1848 – Feb 21, 1894
  • Calf's Head and Ox Tongue - Gustave Caillebotte was a French painter, member and patron of the group of artists known as Impressionists, though he painted in a much more realistic manner than many other artists in the group. His great concern for a realistic painting, his colored notes, and his treatment of light make him well a great Impressionist painter whose work is original and diverse.
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Calf's Head and Ox Tongue
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  • Calf's Head and Ox Tongue

  • Gustave Caillebotte
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  • circa 1882
    Oil on canvas
    Private collection.

    In painting a calf's head, while featuring a subject both humble and 'ugly', Caillebotte's representation effectively works towards a bizarre subversion of standard Realistr fare.
    Focussing on the raw beef tongue and a calf's head hanging from hooks in the butrcher's shop, Caillebotte's composition furthers the disassociation of sign from substance begun with the butcher's assault on the animals. Isolated, the dismembered parts are suspended in a kind of commercial purgatory between death and consumption - dead matter cut off from life and not yet transformed and revalidated as food. Yet the pinks, mauves and reds of Caillebotte's palette fail to connote life's blood, allowing the parts to float relatively free of associations with a vital past and to assume an oddly gay appearance - one thinks of Japanese lanterns and kites.

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Other paintings by Gustave Caillebotte:

Sailboats in Argenteuil
Sailboats in Argenteuil
The Yerres, Rain
The Yerres, Rain
A Balcony
A Balcony
A Balcony in Paris
A Balcony in Paris
Gustave CaillebotteGustave Caillebotte was born in 1848 to a wealthy family who had made their money in textiles and real estate during the redevelopment of Paris in the 1860s.

In 1875, wishing to make his public debut, he submitted a painting to the Salon jury, which rejected it. That work was probably the Floorscrapers, which Caillebotte then decided to exhibit in a more hospitable environment, that of the second Impressionist group exhibition of 1876. His work, highly acclaimed, stole the show and helped to make the second exhibition far more of a popular success than the first.

Wealthy and generous, Caillebotte financially supported his Impressionist friends by purchasing their works at inflated prices and underwriting many of the expenses encurred for the exhibitions.

Caillebotte was a painter of great originality. Like the Impressionists, Caillebotte pursued an instant of vision, recording it with a fullness of truthful detail. Caillebotte, however, attempted to portray the rhythms of an industrial society with his regimented figures and the clock-like precision of his Paris. In this aspect, he was very much like the Realists.

In 1876 he drew up a will providing money for an Impressionist exhibition to be held after his death, and bequeathing his collection of Impressionist paintings to the State. This bequest was made on the condition that the paintings should first be exhibited in the Luxembourg (the museum dedicated to the work of living artists), and later to the Louvre. He intended that the State should not hide the paintings away in an attic or provincial museum. His brother Martial along with Renoir were entrusted with making sure the provisions of his will were carried out.

Gustave Caillebotte died in 1894.