The French irises are here to stay: After three years of delays and disputes, the Art Gallery of Ontario has acquired Iris Bleus, Jardin du Petit Gennevilliers by Gustave Caillebotte for a price tag of more than $1-million. The prized French Impressionist painting from 1892 was at the centre of a recent fight over export permits for significant works, after it was sold to a British art dealer at a Toronto auction in 2016 but blocked from leaving the country.
Under a system designed to help keep such works in Canada, the AGO is receiving a $540,000 grant from the federal government toward the purchase. AGO chief curator Julian Cox would not disclose the full price, but said the grant covered slightly less than 50 per cent. A $1-million-plus figure would represent a significant profit for the unnamed British seller, who paid $678,500 in 2016. However, Cox said the painting marks an important addition to the AGO’s collection and is the only example of Caillebotte’s rare, but increasingly prized work in a large Canadian museum.