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Gustave Caillebotte was a 3rd cousin to Paul de Launay (my grandfather) and Paul Valpinçon. The latter two (the two Pauls) were 2nd cousins to each other. Paul Valpinçon was the lifelong friend of Edgar Degas mentioned in the art history books, and it was through Valpinçon whom Degas was introduced to Caillebotte, and through whom the two met Ingres….and thus began the era of French Impressionism.

178 km west of Paris, on a vast and grand French estate in Normandie which remained in our family for 152 years, next to the Chateau there is an art studio that my cousin, Paul Valpinçon, built for his lifelong dear friend, Edgar Degas. It was built with a large window so that Degas could paint during inclement weather. This was the vast estate of the Valpinçon family chateau (French castle), and originally spanned over 250 acres. The property was originally purchased by René Valpinçon (Paul de Launay’s grand uncle), in 1822, and it remained in our family until 1974. The current owner was very instrumental in having the estate designated a French historical landmark just a few years ago.

Paul de Launay’s paternal grandmother was Marie Valpinçon, sister of René Valpinçon.

Today this estate is about half of its original size, as each time it is sold, French law allows farmers to buy the acreage they are renting to farm. Other physical changes are a water fountain in the front of the main house, and a metal Russian coat of arms of a recent owner is now bolted over the original Valpinçon coat of arms which are over both the back and main entrances.

Both Paul & Marguerite Valpinçon died on the estate, Paul on 13 Oct 1894, and Marguerite on 7 Oct 1898. The chateau passed to Paul Valpinçon’s son Henri, who never married. Although Paul Valpinçon’s daughter, Hortense, was alive and well when Henri died on 28 Oct 1942, the chateau passed to a male cousin, a grandson of Paul Valpinçon’s brother, as was the French custom. Hortense’s only son, Raymond Paul Édouard Fourchy, had already died prematurely on 7 Dec 1937, at the age of 48.

Paul Valpinçon, his wife Marguerite, and their children, Henri and Hortense, were all painted and/or drawn by Degas. There are also several paintings of the interior of the chateau by Degas. Degas remained a close friend of the Valpinçon family, especially Hortense until his death on 27 Sep 1917.

Renoir painted the “Children of Martial Caillebotte” (Jr. – although not really a Jr., but you may think of him that way), who was one of two younger brothers of Gustave. Caillebotte himself painted his younger brothers, mother, several 1st cousins, and Mlle Boissière (located at the Houston MFA) who was a woman on Alfred’s mother’s side of the family. We can find no record of Adèle Zoé Boissière having a sister, only brothers.

Alfred’s mother, Adèle Zoé (neé Boissière) Caillebotte, was my great-grandfather’s 1st cousin, while Martial Caillebotte, the father, was his 2nd cousin by two separate lines. So, Martial (the elder) and his 1st wife, Zoé, were 2nd cousins through their great-grandparents, Thomas Féron (b. 5 Dec 1724, d. 18 May 1799) & Ann Belliot (b. 15 Mar 1724, m. 2 Aug 1742, d. 2 Nov 1799). Their daughter, Anne Julie married Gabriel Pincon de Valpincon, while her brother Francois’ had two daughters, Adeläide and Marie. So in 1793, two Féron daughters, first Marie in January, and then Adeläide in October, married two Caillebotte brothers. One of these brothers, Antoine Marie Pierre Caillebotte, was Gustave’s paternal grandfather.

First cousins share the same grandparents, 2nd cousins share the same great-grandparents, 3rd cousins share the same great-great grandparents, and so on. While I have some 1st and 2nd cousins on my fathers side that we rarely communicate with, our family still remains closely connected with our Valpinçon and Caillebotte cousins who are now 4th and 5th cousins.

The 1808 painting by Jean Auguste Dominic Ingres, titled “The Valpinçon Bather”“, was a gift of neo-classical painter, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres to René Valpinçon. Although the woman in the painting is not a Valpinçon family member to our knowledge, the painting was given the Valpinçon family name at some point we have yet to determine, and it stayed in the family until 1879 when it went to the Louvre where it resides today. It was also through the Valpinçon family that both Degas & Caillebotte met their idol, Ingres.

Paul Valpinçon and Gustave Caillebotte (along with my grandfather, Paul de Launay) were close cousins who lived just three blocks from each other in Paris, and was the relationship through which Caillebotte also met Edgar Degas, and became involved with the French Impressionist movement.

A nephew of René Valpinçon and his sister Marie was Jules Valpinçon, who became the son-in-law of Martin Guillaume Biennais. Biennais was the jeweler who crafted the Crown Jewels for the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, and they are also in the Louvre.

This same Jules Valpinçon is also the namesake of my great-grandfather, Jules de Launay (1813-1892), and is listed as godfather on Jules de Launay’s baptismal record (1813), along with Jules’ maternal aunt, Anne (neé Valpinçon) Boissiére.

Anne was the mother of Martial Caillebotte’s first wife, Adèle Zoé Boissière. Anne is Paul de Launay’s grand aunt, and she is the sister of René & Marie Valpinçon . Zoé’s son, Alfred Caillebotte, was a Catholic priest and a half-brother of French Impressionist artist Gustave Caillebotte, having different mothers.

This makes Anne 1) the grand aunt of Paul Valpinçon (lifelong friend of Degas), 2) the grandmother of Alfred Callebotte (half-brother of Gustave), and 3) 1st cousin of Martial (the father) Caillebotte’s mother, Adelaïde Françoise Féron.

Upon the death of Paul de Launay’s father, Dr. Jules de Launay on 27 Mar 1892, Alfred Caillebotte offered to make his sons Paul & Gaston de Launay, both Protestants, the sole heirs to Alfred’s estate if only the boys would be raised in the Catholic Church. Jules’ wife, Annie, refused. Alfred died 17 May 1896. But Paul de Launay became an accomplished artist, sculptor, and organist, even training under one of Gustave’s teachers, Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat.

When the wife of Martin Guillaume Biennais, Madame Biennais died in 1869, her Chateau in Yerres was purchased by Martial Caillebotte (father of Gustave) in a private family auction. Martial’s 2nd cousin, Jules Valpinçon (mentioned above) married one of the Biennais daughters. This property in Yerres is the same property where Gustave Caillebotte painted his first known paintings. So, the sale of this 27 acre estate was literally a sale between cousins.

My grandfather, Paul de Launay (1878-1951), was an artist, sculture, and organist trained in Paris, who was also a student of Léon Bonnat. Bonnat was a very famous French artist, and one of Caillebotte’s first teachers. Paul de Launay came to the U.S. in 1903 and became one of the top organists in the country, and a lesser known artist than his famous cousin, but was finally awarded the French Légion d’honneur in 1950, just before his death in 1951.

On our Facebook page, linked below, I have posted a photo of Alfred Caillebotte, who was as you may have guessed by now, was both a 3rd cousin AND a half-brother to Gustave. Alfred’s parents were indeed 2nd cousins to each other and were married on 10 May 1828 in Paris. Alfred’s mother was the first wife of Martial Caillebotte, and she died 12 Dec 1836, just four days after their daughter, Leonie (age 6) died.

Martial Caillebotte married his 2nd wife, Eugénie Séraphine Lemasquerier, in 1843. She died 12 Jan 1844, 6 days after giving birth to their son, Max, who died the day he was born.

Martial’s 3rd wife was Gustave’s mother, Cèleste Daufresne, and they married on 21 Oct 1847. Cèleste was also the niece of the 2nd wife of Martial Caillebotte, but only 5 years younger. All of the wives and children, and some grandchildren, are buried in the Caillebotte Tomb at Pére Lachaise.

The Caillebotte, Valpinçon, and de Launay descendants (including 14 known Americans), now 4th, 5th, and 6th cousins, who all maintain very close family ties with each other and still frequently gather as a family in Paris, and Normandie almost annually.

Find us on Facebook at http://Facebook.com/GustaveCaillebotte

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On 18 Dec 1819, Jules Pinson de Valpinçon, the 1st cousin and namesake of my great-grandfather Jules de Launay, married Adrienne Biennais at Église Saint Roch in Paris. Adrienne’s father, Martin Guillaume Biennais, created the 1804 crown jewels for Napoleon Bonaparte which are now on display at the Louvre.

Both of these Jules were 2nd cousins of the father of the French Impressionist artist, Gustave Caillebotte. In 1860, Gustave’s father, Martial Caillebotte, purchased property at Yerres for 134,000 francs plus about 9,000 in fees, from the Biennais Estate. This property is where Gustave did many of his paintings. So it was quite literally a sale between cousins.

Adrienne Adelaide Biennais – Madame Jules Valpincon. Grave is locate near the Caillebotte tomb in Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Source: http://www.MyFamilyJules.com.

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Gustave Caillebotte as a child. (L) 1849, (R) 1853.

Gustave Caillebotte as a child.
(L) 1849, (R) 1853.

Although this is, and always will be, the primary site for original content distributed by My Family Jules, we are expanding to also include a micro-blogging page (short snippets) on Tumblr.com

, because of the large number of Caillebotte fans that are blogging and re-blogging posts about our cousin, Gustave Caillebotte.  By doing so, we hope to reach more fans, to share with them the not-so-public and private information about the life and family connections of Gustave that made him such a unique figure in French art history.

Follow our Tumblr blog at http://www.CaillebotteFamily.com .

Also please take a moment to LIKE a new page on Facebook, the Friends of Caillebotte, a new group that has hopes of helping to fund the restoration of former properties owned or occupied by Gustave Caillebotte that have fallen on hard times and are beginning to show major problems, such at the property in Yerres.  You can find the Friends of Caillebotte at http://www.facebook.com/CaillebotteSociety.

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1848 – 1894, LA VALLÉE DE L’YERRES, Signed “G. Caillebotte”, and dated 77 (lowerᅠ right).  Pastel on paperᅠlaid down on board 22 7/8 by 28 1/2 in. 58.1 by 72.4 cm Executed in 1877.

The auction is to be held on May 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm in New York, and is estimated at $1 – 1.5 million.

Visit listing on Sotheby’s.

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From page 1, Vol. 1 of “Jules & Paul de Launay” (publish 1983) by Jules Richard de Launay.  The photos which I have added are from my mother, Rosemarie’s collection.

Mes excuses. Je vais imprimer les Français de cet article bientôt.

“On the ninth of December 1813 in Paris, at the church of St. Denis du St. Denis du St. Sacrament, was baptized a two day old baby, Jules.  He was the son of Jacques Launay and his wife Marie Valpinçon, living at No. 8 rue Neuve St. Catherine (now Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Paris III).  The godmother was Anne Valpinçon, wife of Boissière, residing at no. 30 Rue de la Barillerie (now Bvd. du Palais Paris I & IV).  The godfather was Jules Valpinçon of No. 11 Rue des Deux Boules (Paris I).

I first obtained a copy of the certificate of baptisms of the above Jules in 1933.  I knew something about my grandfather Jules, but I knew nothing of the family except for the little bit of confused information which my father Paul could remember from his conversations with his father Jules.

Paul de Launay (about 1887)

Since Jules died when his son Paul was only 13 & 1/2 years old, the latter’s knowledge was rather vague.  The information which Paul got from his mother Anna was unreliable as she was a social-climber and gave herself and her husband Jules grand (but false) ancestral backgrounds.

Who were these people mentioned in the certificate?  Why was the father named Launay instead of de Launay?  Who were these three Valpinçons?  It was 30 years later in 1963 that knowledge about these people began to unfold.

In January 1962, I arrived in London, England, to spend three years as liaison scientist for the U.S. Office of naval Research, London Branch.  My son Hugh wrote me suggesting that while I was in Europe, perhaps I should investigate our de Launay ancestry.  The idea pleased me, for I had 5 weeks of leave per year and I wished to be doing something active during those times.  But I did not know how to start the research.  Launay, Delaunay, de Launay are very common names in France, so I would need firm clues in order to identify my own de Launays.  Valpinçon, on the other hand, seemed to be a rare name, and form PINSON de VALPINÇON to be contrived (which it proved to be).  Thus, I decided to begin with the Valpinçon Family and leave the de Launay for later.

In the summer of 1962, while in Paris for a week on Navy business [editor’s note: the writer, Jules Richard de Launay, a former Rhodes scholar, and a Navy physicist], I spent an hour each evening looking through the set of telephone books in the Metro station for the name Valpinçon.  Before I began the search, I had reasoned that between Mont Pinson in Calvados and the nearby village Aunay-sur-Odon, there could be a dale called Valpinçon.  Thus, the first place I looked at in the phone books was Aunay-sur-Odon, and there it was:  Pierre de Valpinçon, agrie!  After that happy event, I searched the whole set of volumes, but never found another Valpinçon.

Back in London, I wrote a letter to Monsieur Pierre de Valpinçon, giving him the details from the baptismal certificate of 1813.  I asked if he knew anything about the Valpinçons on the certificate, and if so, would be kindly give me what information he could.  Several months passed by without a reply.  I began to assume that he was not interested and had thrown my letter in the waste paper basket.  In time, however, I was delighted to receive a letter from him.  He said that he had passed my letter on to his cousin l’Abbé Yves Champion of Laval, who was the family genealogist.  The Abbé was injured in an automobile accident just after receiving my letter and was incapacitated for some time, hence the long delay.  The Abbé tol Monsieur de Valpinçon that he was certain that I was their cousin and that he knew the connection.  I was then invited to spend a day in April (1963) in the week after Easter at the farm.

This photo from a later reunion, not 1962.

What happened to the family in Paris after the birth in 1813 of Jules, I had no idea.  In 1982, I engaged the Paris genealogist Madame Margaret Audin of 37 Rue Quintinie, Paris-XV, to find out what happened to them.”

So began Volume 1 of “Jules and Paul de Launay” printed for my uncle Jules Richard de Launay in 1983 by Frank Webster, bookbinder in Canterbury, England.

I will be re-publishing my uncle’s work here, as I transcribe it for republication with my own work, and that of my mother’s, for the descendants of their father, my grandfather Paul de Launay.

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