New York, NY (PRWEB) February 25, 2009
Collector and philanthropist Iris Cantor announced the donation of Femme nue étendue sur un divan (1873) by French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte as a promised gift to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as a tribute to Philippe de Montebello, the Museum's Director Emeritus, who served as the institution's Director from 1977 through December 2008.
Nearly four years ago, when visiting Mrs. Cantor, Mr. de Montebello expressed interest in the painting in Mrs. Cantor's collection. In honor of his 31 years of leadership at the Metropolitan, Mrs. Cantor announced the promised gift at his recent retirement dinner.
"I am very pleased and honored to make this gift of the first Caillebotte in the Met's collection," said Iris Cantor. "Over the years my husband and I have greatly enjoyed working with Philippe, and we have been impressed by the energy, excellence, and scholarship that he and all of his colleagues bring to one of the world's premiere cultural institutions - a museum that enlightens and educates the public in New York as well as around the world."
Noted Thomas P. Campbell, the current Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Iris Cantor, a Museum Benefactor and former Trustee, and her late husband, have been exceptionally generous to the Metropolitan Museum. Their gifts of more than 30 Rodin sculptures are a delight to our visitors, and their philanthropy is evident in many areas of the Museum that carry their names - our Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, a major exhibition hall, an endowment to support exhibitions, and the chairman position in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. The recent gift of Caillebotte's Femme nue étendue sur un divan is an extension of this remarkable generosity and a profound tribute to my predecessor."
"We welcome this remarkable pastel, the first Caillebotte to enter the Metropolitan's collection," said Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Chairman of Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary Art. "Caillebotte was that rare thing, an Impressionist figure painter, and thus this nude is particularly pertinent."
Femme nue étendue sur un divan is believed to be the earliest dated work by Caillebotte and differs from much of his later work. "The suaveness of the treatment of flesh and cloth here, and especially the artist's attraction to the satiny sheet of the striped drape, remind us that at the outset of his career - in instances such as the wet-and-dry wood floor and curled shavings in Raboteurs de parquet - Caillebotte was attracted not only to linear structure but simultaneously to the subtle discrimination of shifting plays of interior light on surfaces. With the adoption of a more boldly brushed technique inspired by the work of Manet, Monet, and Renoir, he eventually sacrificed something of this latter aspect, and not without loss for the personal character of his work," wrote Kirk Varnedoe, the late art historian and noted curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the first Cantor Fellow at Stanford University.