Gérald Darmanin, Minister of Action and Public Accounts, and Franck Riester, Minister of Culture, announce the entry into the collections of the Musée d'Orsay of a major work by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), Landscape in Argenteuil (1889) accepted by the State in July 2019.

In 1887, Gustave Caillebotte settled permanently at the Petit-Gennevilliers (near Paris), where he drew inspiration from his works. Regattas, gardening and public action at the service of the municipality sometimes compete with the practice of painting. Landscape in Argenteuil belongs to this last period of the artist, dominated by outdoor landscapes.

Caillebotte represents the village of Argenteuil seen from the plain of Petit-Gennevilliers, on the opposite bank of the Seine. After Monet, Sisley, Manet, Renoir and Morisot, he worked in an area that was one of the most important places of impressionism in the first half of the 1870s. For this painting, Caillebotte placed himself on a small hill, a little high, enjoying a point of view overhanging as he likes them and from which he drew spectacular effects in his urban scenes of the 1870s. In a reversal of the hierarchy and the usual rules of composition, two trees form the main motif, relegating the village in the distance. Caillebotte contrasts the disorder of the vegetation in the foreground with the fields that lie behind the trees. The painter shows us a nature cultivated and transformed by man (the market garden crops of the plain were brought to the Halles every night), even if Landscape in Argenteuil is devoid of any human presence. In a characteristic spirit of impressionism, it is the clear palette, the fluidity of the touch and the light of the open air that transcend the deliberately banal and familiar character of the site represented. Here Caillebotte displays his fidelity to the places and precepts of the impressionist landscape.

For all these reasons, Landscape in Argenteuil is a significant development for national public collections. It pays tribute to one of the masters of Impressionism and a generous donor, whose legacy in 1894 brought paintings by his friends Renoir, Degas, Monet, Manet, Sisley, Pissarro and Cézanne into the museums.

Landscape in Argenteuil will be visible from Tuesday 15 October for several weeks at the Musée d'Orsay. The painting will then be deposited at the Baron Gérard de Bayeux Museum of Art and History. He will join Country portraits (1876) that Caillebotte, had as Landscape in Argenteuil, offered to his cousin Germaine Zoé Fermal, née Caillebotte. The landscape was the young woman’s engagement gift while Portraits was offered to him at his wedding in Bayeux.   

Governed by the Law of 31 December 1968, adopted at the instigation of André Malraux, and which came into force in 1970, the dation system allows for the exceptional payment of inheritance and transfer duties free of charge between living persons, the right to share and the tax on real estate wealth, by handing over to the State cultural property of high artistic or historical value. This procedure, instructed by the Interministerial Commission for the Approval of the Conservation of the National Artistic Heritage, has contributed significantly to the enrichment of public collections for half a century. In particular, it allowed the creation of the Picasso Museum, based on works donated by the artist’s heirs.

For 50 years, dation in payment has enabled the State to enter the national collections of major works. I am delighted that, with this device established by André Malraux, a new painting by Gustave Caillebotte will join the Musée d'Orsay, in this year of celebration of 60e anniversary of the Ministry of Culture. », Franck Riester, Minister of Culture.