A French museum has acquired an Impressionist masterpiece thanks to a huge donation from luxury goods giant LVMH.
LVMH donated the 43 million euros (£38m) needed to acquire A Boating Party by 19th-century French artist Gustave Caillebotte.
The oil on canvas shows an oarsman in a top hat rowing his skiff on languid waters.
The work, remarkable for its realism, delicate colours and almost cinematic perspective – as though the artist was in the boat with the rower – went on display on Monday in the Musee d’Orsay.
It is the latest addition to the Paris museum’s already impressive collection of Impressionist art.
The painting was sold by Caillebotte’s descendants.
It had been one of the last Impressionist masterpieces still in private hands, said Jean-Paul Claverie, an adviser to LVMH boss Bernard Arnault.
Although a prolific painter in his own right, Caillebotte was better known as a millionaire patron of France’s Impressionist artists who revolutionised Western painting in the late 19th century.
Born into a wealthy family, Caillebotte accumulated an enviable collection of dozens of works by his friends Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and other artists he helped support financially.
Before his death, he bestowed their artworks to the French state, hoping they would be displayed in the Louvre.
After Caillebotte died aged 45 in February 1894, France took possession of 38 of his paintings by Monet, Renoir, Edouard Manet, Paul Cezanne and other artists for its national collection. That donation later formed the core of the Impressionist collection at the Musee d’Orsay, opened in 1986 in a former railway station.
His reputation as an important collector and donor of Impressionist art long overshadowed Caillebotte’s own contributions to the movement as a painter, partly because he did not include his own work in the collection he bequeathed to the French state.
When Caillebotte died, unmarried and without children, his brother Martial Caillebotte inherited 175 of the artist’s works.
Much of his work stayed in his descendants’ hands and just a sliver ended up in French museums.
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