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The road to Naples by Gustave and Giuseppe

In 1872, Gustave Caillebotte was 24 years old. He left for Italy, in reference to the "Grand Tour", which made this destination a must for the artistic education of the youth of the wealthy classes. He befriends the Italian artist Giuseppe de Nittis. The same year, he painted "A Road in Naples", one of his very first paintings.

Gustave Caillebotte. Une route à Naples . 1872. Collection privée
Gustave Caillebotte. Une route à Naples . 1872. Collection privée

The quality and originality of this painting, with its daring perspective, its intense light which cuts out the shadow of the horse on the road which one can imagine bathed in heat around noon, testify to an already very successful artistic training. It is in fact the reinterpretation of a canvas executed the same year by Giuseppe de Nittis, "The road from Naples to Brindisi", exhibited at the Salon of 1872. Although no character appears in this composition, Caillebotte makes a humorous reference to his presence: a large white canvas frame protrudes from the sides of the carriage, behind the coachman's seat.

Giuseppe De Nittis. La route de Naples à Brindisi. 1872. Collection privée
Giuseppe De Nittis. La route de Naples à Brindisi. 1872. Collection privée

Two years older than Gustave Caillebotte, Giuseppe de Nittis would have a great influence on the beginnings of the French painter. Friend of Edgar Degas, he participated in 1874, at the latter's invitation, in the first exhibition of impressionist painters held in Nadar's studio, boulevard des Capucines. After the refusal of one of Caillebotte's paintings at the 1874 Salon, De Nittis wrote to his wife Léontine: "Invite Caillebotte to dinner, let him learn a real lesson from the circumstances, let him make art by pissing off juries, because the future is ours."

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. Genzano. 1843. The Philips Collection.
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. Genzano. 1843. The Philips Collection.

Thirty years earlier, Jean-Baptiste Corot had already captured the oxymoron of the subtle and violent play of harsh light and ochre-green colors of the Italian countryside, like his interpretation of the surroundings of Genzano, near Rome. , on the occasion of his third trip to Italy.


In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...



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