The Rise of Durand-RueI
Buying in bulk
gives the dealer Durand-Ruel the opportunity to purchase works
by Degas, Manet, Renoir and Sisley relatively cheaply. This year
he also mounts the first exhibitions of Impressionist work to be
held in London, though these are not a commercial success.
Sisley stays with Monet at Argenteuil.
Durand-Ruel buys three works from Degas, his first purchase of the
artist's work. He also buys twenty-four paintings from Manet for
The Square at Argenteuil
This is one of four works that Sisley painted while staying with
Monet. The artist uses perspective to lead the eye into the
composition, in the background of which appears the tower of the
church of Notre-Dame.
4th Cezanne has an illegitimate son, Paul, by Hortense Fiquet
and conceals the fact from his father.
12th Durand-Ruel buys his first painting by Sisley. Two days
later he also buys his first painting by Renoir, The Pont des
Arts, for 200 francs.
12th Renoir's former model Lise Trehot marries the architect
George Briere de I'Isle.
29th The singer and collector Jean-Bap tiste Faure sells
forty-two Impressionist paintings at auction. Prices are very low,
Pulcinello attracting the highest bid at 2000 francs.
Many of the paintings are withdrawn, since they fail to reach their
1st Opening of the Salon.
Renoir's Parisian Women in Algerian Dress
is rejected. Manet's The Battle of the 'Kearsage' and the
'Alabama', on loan from Durand-Ruel (who had bought it in
January for 3000 francs), is hung. Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt
each have two works accepted. Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley do
4th The fourth exhibition of Durand-Ruel's Society of French
Artists opens in London, including work by Degas, Monet, Pissarro
18th Cezanne, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and others sign
a petition demanding another Salon des Refuses.
25th During one of his regular visits to Holland, Manet
visits the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, where he is greatly
impressed by the Vermeers.
Berthe Morisot visits Spain, then stays with her married sister Edma
In 1872 Manet painted a portrait of Morisot which was highly praised
by Mallarme. Subsequently he produced two lithographs and an etching
of her. In this lithograph Manet has emphasized the tonal contrast
between Morisot's skin and clothes.
Sisley working in Villeneuve-la-Garonne.
Pissarro moves to the rue de l'Hermitage in Pontoise, where he is
joined by Cezanne.
12th Degas and his brother set sail for America on the
Scotia. They arrive in New York on October 24th, then go on to New
2nd The fifth exhibition of Durand-Ruel's Society of French
Artists opens in London. It includes work by Degas, Manet, Pissarro,
Renoir and Sisley.
19th In a letter to Tissot from New Orleans, Degas relates
the pleasures of family life and the problems of painting family
26th Sisley gives Pissarro one of his pictures.
He also suggests organizing a dinner for Durand-Ruel (there is,
however, no record of the dinner taking place).
The Seine bursts its banks. Sisley paints his first series of 'flood
paintings' at Marly.
Paul Durand-Ruel (31 October 1831,
Paris – 5 February 1922, Paris) was a French art dealer who is
associated with the Impressionists. He was one of the first modern
art dealers who provided support to his painters with stipends and
Born Paul-Marie-Joseph Durand-Ruel in Paris, his father was a
picture dealer. In 1865 young Paul took over the family business,
which represented artists such as Corot and the Barbizon school of
French landscape painting. In 1867 he moved his gallery from 1 rue
de la Paix, Paris, to 16 rue Laffitte, with a branch at 111 rue Le
Peletier. During the 1860s and early 1870s Paul Durand-Ruel was an
important advocate and successful art dealer of the Barbizon School.
However Durand-Ruel soon established a relationship with a group of
painters who would become known as the Impressionists.
During the Franco-Prussian War, of 1870–71, Paul Durand-Ruel left
Paris and escaped to London, where he met up with a number of French
artists including Charles-François Daubigny, Claude Monet and
Camille Pissarro. In December 1870 he opened the first of ten
Annual Exhibitions of the Society of French Artists at his new
London gallery at 168 New Bond Street, under the management of
He recognized the artistic and fashionable potential of
Impressionism as early as 1870, and his first major exhibition of
their work took place at his London gallery in 1872. Eventually
Durand-Ruel had exhibitions of Impressionism and other works
(including the expatriate American painter James Abbott McNeill
Whistler who lived in London), at his Paris and London galleries. He
also brought their work to New York, doing much to establish the
popularity of Impressionist art in the United States.
During the final three decades of
the 19th century Paul Durand-Ruel became the best known art dealer
and most important commercial advocate of French Impressionism in
the world. He succeeded in establishing the market for Impressionism
in the United States as well as in Europe. Edgar Degas, Édouard
Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste
Renoir, Alfred Sisley, are among the important Impressionist artists
that Durand-Ruel helped to establish. He represented many lesser
known artists including Maxime Dethomas or Hugues Merle amongst
Regarding the Americans’
open-mindedness towards impressionism, Durand-Ruel once said, "The
American public does not laugh. It buys!"
Durand-Ruel had an intense rivalry
with Parisian art dealer Georges Petit (1856–1920).
DEGAS WRITES FROM
DE GAS BROTHERS, New Orleans
What do you say to the heading? It is the
firm's note paper. Here one speaks of nothing but cotton and
exchange. Why do you not speak to me of other things? You do not
write to me. What impression did my dance picture [exhibited by
Durand-Ruel in London] make on you and the others? Were you able to
help in selling it? And the one of the family at the races, what is
happening to that? Oh, how far from everything one is.
Excellent journey. Mew York has some charming spots. We spent
scarcely two days there. What a degree of civilization! Steamers
coming from Europe arrive like omnibuses at a station. We pass
carnages, even trains on the water. It's like England in her best
After four days on the train, we arrived in New Orleans. You cannot
imagine a wagon-lit 'sliping car' [sic]. A real dormitory. Behind
curtains one can undress down to one's vest, if one wants to, and
then climb into a proper, well-made bed. Everything is done simply
and, except for some details of taste, one says to oneself. 'It's
true, just what I needed.'
Children on a Doorstep
Degas began this work three weeks after his arrival in New
Orleans, and in a letter to Tissot a (right) mentioned the
difficulties he found in persuading the children to pose. The
painting went virtually unnoticed when shown at the second
Villas with columns in different styles, painted white, in gardens
of magnolias, orange trees, banana trees, negroes in old clothes
like the junk from La Jardiniere [a junk shop in Paris] or
Marseilles, rosy white children in black arms, charabancs or
omnibuses drawn by mules, the tall funnels of the steamboats
towering at the end of the main street, that is a bit of local
colour, with a brilliant light at which my eyes complain.
Everything is beautiful in this world of the people, but one Paris
laundry girl with bare arms is worth it all for such a confirmed
Parisian as I am. The right way is to concentrate, and one can only
do that by seeing little. I am doing some family portraits, but the
big thing will be when I come back.
Rene [the artist's brother] has superb children, an excellent wife,
she scarcely seems blind, though her case is almost hopeless, and he
has a good position in business. He is happy, and it is his country,
even more perhaps than France.
You with your fantastic energy would be able to extract money from
this crowd of stockbrokers and cotton dealers. I shall make no
attempt to earn money here.
Madame Rene de Gas
Degas painted several portraits of his family while staying in
New Orleans. His brother Rene had married his cousin, the young,
blind widow Estelle Balfour. When this work was painted she was
heavily pregnant with her fourth child, Jeanne, to whom Degas became
I hope this letter crosses one from you. Did you get my photographs?
Here I have acquired the taste for money, and once back I shall know
how to earn some, I promise you.
If you see Millais, tell him I'm very sorry to have missed him, and
tell him how much I appreciate him. Remember me to young Deschamps,
to Legros, to Whistler, who has really struck a truly personal note
in that finely balanced power of expression, a mysterious mingling
of land and water.
I have not yet written to Manet, and naturally, he has not sent me a
line. The arrival of the mail in the morning really excites me.
Nothing is more difficult than doing family portraits. To make a
cousin sit for you when she is nursing a brat of two months is quite
hard work. To get young children to pose on the steps is another job
of work which doubles the fatigues of the first. It is the art of
giving pleasure, and one must look the part.
A good family! It really is a good thing to be married, to have fine
children, to be free of the necessity of always being gallant. I
must say it's time one thought about it.
Good-bye. Write to me. I shall not leave the country before the
middle of January.
LETTER TO TISSOT, November 19th, 1872
THE IMPRESSIONIST MARKET IN BRITAIN
In the early 1870s. thanks to Durand-Ruel,
whose gallery showed works by Monet and Pissarro and later by Degas,
Renoir and Sisley, Londoners had an opportunity to see Impressionist
works before Impressionism was recognizable as a movement. But at
first Durand-Ruel appears to have made no sales to British buyers -
who seem to have felt little sympathy for the Impressionists'
paintings, despite the fact that these owed a great deal to the
landscape traditions of Turner and Constable. Nor were collectors
willing to offer much for them, even though they were prepared to
pay huge sums for paintings by living British artists (Alma-Tadema's
Roman Picture Gallery, for example, fetched -£10,000 and
Holman-Hunt's The Shadow of the Cross sold for
Probably the first British collector to purchase works by the
Impressionists was Henry Hill of Marine Parade, Brighton, to whom
Durand-Ruel sold 'five or six very fine pictures' by Degas before he
closed his New Bond Street Gallery in 1875. After Hill's death these
paintings were auctioned at Christie's in 1889 and 1892 ('pour rien',
as Durand-Rucl ruefully remarked), which constituted the first
appearance of the Impressionists in the London salerooms.
In 1881 the Greek-born stockbroker Constantine Alexander Ionides
bought Degas' The Ballet from 'Robert le
Diable' , which had been commissioned by Faure and is now in
the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. But in the following years
only a few individuals ventured to buy these 'dangerous' new
paintings, and even then only on a small scale.
The Ballet from 'Robert le Diable'
This, the second version of Robert к Diable, was commissioned by
Faure in 1874. The subject, the most famous scene from an opera by
Giacomo Meyerbeer, was close to the singer's heart as the composer
was Faurc's mentor and friend. Those portrayed include: Desire Dihau,
musician (third from the left); Albert Hecht, collector and close
friend of Degas (far left with opera glasses): and Ludovic Lepic,
painter and engraver (the bearded figure in profile, second from the
Sickert bought four or five works by Degas at the Hill sale, but had
to sell them on his divorce; Arthur Kay, who had studied art in
Paris, bought one of Monet's Haystacks in 1892 for
£200; and in the same year an otherwise unknown Mr Burke of London
bought two pictures by Pissarro, followed by two Sisleys in 1893 and
a Degas in 1898.
The writer George Moore assembled a small collection of relatively
minor works by Manet, Monet and Berthc Morisot, and also persuaded
his friend Lord Grimthorpe to buy several Impressionist works.
Grimthorpe's collection was sold at Christie's on May 12th, 1906,
achieving the following amounts: Degas' Dancer with a
Tambourine, 35 guineas; Sisley's View on the Seine,
160 guineas; Monet's The Hospice Lighthouse, 195
Young Girl with a White Cravat, 245 guineas; and a
pastel by Manet, Lady with a Fan, 17 guineas. It is
interesting to note that only twelve years later, when the pictures
of another of Moore's friends, Sir William Eden, were sold at the
same auction rooms, Degas' pastel Tfie Dancer fetched 2000 guineas
and The Laundresses 2300 guineas.
Up to the time of Durand-Ruel's magnificent exhibition at the
Grafton Galleries in 1905, British collectors had bought only fifty
Impressionist paintings - whereas their American counterparts had
amassed about 200. Sales at the exhibition itself were
disappointing: of the 312 paintings on show. Durand-Ruel only sold
about ten. However, one of the buyers was Mr (later Sir) Hugh Lane,
who was anxious to acquire a collection of modern French pictures in
order to found a gallery of modern art in Dublin; and either then or
shortly afterwards he bought a remarkable group of Impressionist
paintings, including Manet's Music in the Tuileries Gardens
and Portrait of Eva Goniales, Monet's
Vetheuil, Renoir's Umbrellas and
Pissarro's Spring in Louveciennes. When Lane perished
in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, his pictures were on loan
to the National Gallery in London but had been relegated to the
cellars. There they remained until 1917, when they became the
subject of prolonged litigation between the national galleries of
England and Ireland due to the ambiguous wording of Lane's will.