Chrysanthemums in the Garden at Petit-Gennevilliers, 1893. Gustave Caillebotte. Oil on canvas. Gift of the Honorable John C. Whitehead, 2014.
Although Caillebotte was a lifelong gardener, his interest in floral subjects did not develop until the 1880s. This work of 1893 depicts flowers that he cultivated on his property at Petit-Gennevilliers, a small town on the Seine just northwest of Paris. Chrysanthemums were then hugely popular in France, celebrated for their resplendent colors and associations with the exotic Far East. This unusual, close-up view of densely packed blossoms has been related to Caillebotte’s project for dining room doors ornamented with images of plants—a conception akin to the decorative series that his friend Monet based on his own garden at Giverny.