Lot 434
  • 434

GUSTAVE CAILLEBOTTE | Portrait de A. Cassabois

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Gustave Caillebotte
  • Portrait de A. Cassabois
  • Signed G Caillebotte and dated 77 (upper right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 31 7/8 by 28 3/4 in.
  • 80 by 72.3 cm
  • Painted in 1877.


A. Cassabois, Paris (acquired directly from the artist)
M Léchopié, Ablon-sur-Seine (by descent from the above)
Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 18, 1903, lot 35
Private Collection, Beverly Hills
Thence by descent


Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Rétrospective Gustave Caillebotte, 1894, no. 25
Houston, Museum of Fine Arts & Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Gustave Caillebotte, 1976-77, no. 32, illustrated in the catalogue
Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Caillebotte au coeur de l'Impressionisme, 2005, no. 20, illustrated in the catalogue
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (on loan)


Marie Berhaut, Gustave Caillebotte, sa vie et son oeuvre, Catalogue raisonné des peintures et pastels, Paris, 1978, no. 56, illustrated p. 101
Marie Berhaut, Gustave Caillebotte, Catalogue raisonné des peintures et pastels, Paris, 1994, no. 61, illustrated p. 95


The painting has been lined with a wax adhesive. There are two small areas of craquelure, one in the sitter's forehead and the other to the left of his head, visible under raking light, which possibly correspond to repaired tears. The surface is nicely textured. Under UV light, there are 2 2 1/2 inch horizontal areas of inpainting which correspond to the aforementioned repaired tears. There are some very minor stroked of inpainting along the top and bottom edges, likely to address prior frame abrasion. The work is in overall very good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

In his groundbreaking 1876 text on the Impressionists, French novelist and art critic Edmond Duranty wrote: “What we need is the unconventional representation of the modern individual in his clothing and his social customs at home or in the street” (Edmond Duranty, "La Nouvelle peinture, à propos du groupe d’artistes qui expose dans les galleries Durand-Ruel,” in Gustave Caillebotte, An Impressionist and Photography (exhibition catalogue), Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2012-13, p. 21). The small series of male portraits that Caillebotte painted between 1877 and 1885, which includes Portrait de A. Cassabois, might be seen as a direct response to this demand. The group of portraits has been celebrated for establishing a break with the severe formality of portraiture at the time and establishing a new style within the genre. Discussing this group of paintings in the exhibition text for the seminal Caillebotte retrospective, The Painter’s Eye, Mary Morton comments on their subtly iconoclastic nature: “His paintings do not fulfill the stereotypical mission of the portrait: to propose generally flattering identities for men and women seeking to place themselves in an ever-evolving social hierarchy. Rather, Caillebotte’s portraits are reserved and noncommittal; with rare exceptions his sitters simply stare from the canvas, seemingly uninterested in performing for the artist or the viewer” (Mary Morton, “Viewing Others: Portraits,” in Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. & Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 2015-16, p. 163). These canvases, which for the most part depict the artist’s family and close bourgeois circle, convey a psychological dimension unseen in portraits of the time. After the death of Caillebotte’s father in 1874, the artist received a substantial inheritance. This unforeseen fortune allowed him to take greater stylistic risks, which is very much reflected in the present work. Whereas portraiture of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century had often been a means of flattering the sitter and conveying social status, the latter half of this century shifted toward greater emphasis on psychological insight and broader social commentary. Caillebotte, as both a member of this prosperous social circle and an observer within the group, used his privileged position to capture the nonchalance and ennui of his sitters in a psychologically acute way, breaking down the barrier between sitter and painter.

The present work is a portrait of A. Cassabois, a stockbroker and friend of the Caillebotte family. The work is unique even within Caillebotte’s series of portraits because of its striking, colorful background. The luscious, seemingly abstract arrangement of colors pose a contrast to the urban interiors or darker backgrounds more common in many of the artist’s other portraits. This distinctive choice suggests a close relationship between sitter and painter. The present work’s casual air is heightened by Cassabois’ posture; he is comfortably sitting for the artist, barely posing, legs spread apart and lightly holding a cigarette in one hand, clearly relaxed and at ease.

Cassabois was both a friend and supporter of Caillebotte, owning three other works by the artist. One of these works, Vue de toits, Paris, is a view of Montmartre rooftops painted from the studio rooftop of Édouard Dessommes, a contemporary artist who was an integral part of Caillebotte’s circle and who sat for the artist several times, including in the painting Peintre sous son parasol (see fig. 1). Other portraits of Cassabois by Caillebotte include La Partie de bésigue of 1881, depicting a group of card players in Caillbotte’s apartment on Boulevard Haussman (see fig. 2), in which Cassabois is seated second right, along with Dessommes, Martial Caillebotte and Richard Gallo, other common characters in Caillebotte’s series of unique and groundbreaking portraits.

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Caillebotte.