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Museum of Fine Arts Boston Acquires Gustave Caillebotte Painting Man At His Bath

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has acquired the painting Man at His Bath (1884), regarded as one of the greatest works by artist Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894). This important canvas represents the first Impressionist nude to enter the Museum’s collection of paintings. The almost life-size work, which has been on loan at the MFA since April, is on display in the Esther and Sidney Rabb Gallery for Impressionism through September 25. It will also be among more than 160 works in the upcoming exhibition, Degas and the Nude, on view at the MFA from October 9 through February 5, 2012.

Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848–1894), Man at His Bath, 1884. Oil on canvas. Private Collection. Photo: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Gustave Caillebotte’s works are among the most striking ever created by an Impressionist painter. They’re bold, unexpected, often with an ‘in-your-face’ quality that resonates with both the public and connoisseurs,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA.
Man at His Bath, 1884, Gustave Caillebotte “Man at His Bath is Caillebotte at his finest, not only visually striking but also beautifully painted. We are thrilled to be able to add this masterwork to the Museum’s collection.”

Man at His Bath was painted in 1884 by Caillebotte, one of the finest Impressionist painters of the 19th century, renowned for his scenes of urban life in Paris, whether on the streets or inside apartments. He is well known for such paintings as Paris Street, Rainy Day (1877, Art Institute of Chicago) and The Floor Scrapers (1875, Musée d’Orsay), scenes in which strong perspective and daring design illustrate Parisian daily life. Because he was wealthy, Caillebotte did not sell many of his paintings during his lifetime, but collected numerous works by his contemporaries, including Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. Man at His Bath, measuring approximately 6 x 4 1⁄2 feet, pictures a rear view of a man drying himself, his clothes neatly folded on a chair near a curtained window and copper tub. The painting may not have been viewed by a large audience until nearly a century after its completion. It traveled to Brussels in 1888 to be exhibited by the vanguard organization Les XX (“The Twenty”), where it appears to have been removed from the general exhibition and shown privately to only a few visitors. Man at His Bath is the second Caillebotte painting to enter the Museum’s

collection, joining Fruit Displayed on a Stand (about 1881–82), generally considered Caillebotte’s most original still life painting,
which the Museum purchased in 1979.

Caillebotte died at the age of 45 in 1894, leaving many works in his collection of masterpieces by his fellow Impressionists to the French state. Included in his estate were pastels of nudes by Degas, the first works by the artist to enter that nation’s collection— two of these will be shown in Degas and the Nude. Man at His Bath passed to the artist’s family in Paris, who sold it to art dealers Brame et Lorenceau. In 1967 it was acquired by a private collection, which recently sold it to the MFA.
“For 15 years, I’ve had the rare privilege, as well as the profound responsibility, to care for one of the world’s greatest groups of French 19th-century paintings,” said George T.M. Shackelford, Chair, Art of Europe and Arthur K. Solomon Curator of Modern Art at the Museum. “It’s hard to think of ways in which the MFA’s Impressionist collection could improve. Adding a work like this one gives an indoor, urban accent to a collection that is dominated by the sun-drenched pastoral art of Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, and Sisley. With Man at His Bath, building on great strengths in the work of Manet and Degas, we’ve added another icon to the collection.”

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its encyclopedic collection, which includes an estimated 450,000 objects. The Museum’s collection is made up of: Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. Admission (which includes two visits in a 10-day period) is $22 for adults and $20 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and children 6 and younger. Youths 17 years of age and younger are admitted for free during non-school hours. On school days until 3 p.m., admission for youths 7–17 is $10. Wednesday nights after 4 p.m. admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $22). The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit or call 617.267.9300

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