Monday, October 4, 2010

The Impressionist's Hero: M. Durand-Ruel

Last week the blog was about Theo Van Gogh, who did everything he could to promote and sell the art of Vincent as well as the other Impressionists. As I mentioned then, the art world purchased art and gave commissions to artists whose work reflected the stringency of the Academie de Beaux-Artes. By 1860, certain artists began to rebel against the rigidity of being told what and how they were to paint.

These artist started their own exhibitions in the Salon de Refuse. Their exhibits in Paris were considered outrageous and even scandalous. The art was ridiculed and, for the most part, no one was interested in buying the art. Against that background, these artists found support in many ways from Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922).

Paul's father had been art dealer and in 1865, Paul took over the business. He believed deeply in the Impressionists. He supported the artist by buying the art outright*, gave stipends to the artists, and held solo exhibitions. Eventually, some artwork sold, but not in any serious way in France.

However, during 1886 and 1887, he launched exhibits in the United States and experienced great success. He so appreciated the open-mindedness of the Americans for impressionism that he was quoted as saying, "The American public does not laugh. It buys!"

From 1870 until his death, Paul became the best known art dealer for French Impressionism in the world. Most of the Impressionists struggled financially. Imagine how much worse it would have been without M. Durand-Ruel's support!
*Between 1891 and 1922, Paul Durand-Ruel purchased close to 12,000
pictures, including
more than 1,000 Monets, approximately 1,500 Renoirs, more than 400 each by Degas and Sisleys, about 800 Pissarros, close to 200 Manets and appx. 400 Mary Cassatts. "...
My craziness has become wisdom. To say that if I had died at sixty years old, I would have died crippled in debt, insolvent amongst undiscovered treasures…


  1. He either believed very deeply in the impressionists or was a big time gambler. Either way, it's nice to know that the "uncultured" Americans saw the beauty of impressionistic art. Len

  2. Wow! What a collection he had. Good for the Americans for seeing the art for what it was - a wonderful new way to "express" images. Just imagine. If not for the brave people who swam against the current we would all be stuck making art in the only way that was considered proper.

  3. Durand-Ruel would be exceptional in his support of artists even today...Marcy

  4. I liked this blog a lot. Thank you. EB

  5. Thanks... very interesting. Connie

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