The Economist reminds us that Paul Durand-Ruel was the original market maker for the Impressionists as reinforced by a new exhibition at the National Gallery:
“Inventing Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel and the Modern Art Market” will almost certainly draw crowds. Paintings by Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-August Renoir, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot and their artist friends are hugely popular with the public and chased by collectors. But in the early 1870s, when Durand-Ruel, the successful, art-dealing son of an art dealer, first fell for them, such works were reviled, practically unsellable. He scooped them up, buying some 12,000 Impressionist works in total, including 1,000 Monets and 1,500 Renoirs. He used other stock as collateral to raise the capital needed to pay these struggling artists monthly stipends, produce illustrated catalogues, engage the press, and stage what were at the time very unusual one-man shows. Durand-Ruel also opened branches of his gallery abroad, and it was the Americans who were the first to embrace Impressionism, helped perhaps by the efforts of Mary Cassatt, one of Durand-Ruel’s artists and a well-connected Philadelphian. Yet decades were to pass before his commitment was reflected in strong sales.
Paul Durand-Ruel: Making the Impressionists (The Economist)