CHOCQUET Victor
This enthusiastic and keen collector ('good old Chocquet', as he was called in his time) was born in Lille about 1840. A minor Customs official, he devoted a substantial portion of his meagre income to buying Impressionist works. His first acquisitions were a small Delacroix and Manet Peonies, now in the Louvre. In the little shop run by Père Tanguy, a dealer in art supplies and paintings, he discovered the then unknown Impressionist painters, to whom he gave at once his unqualified admiration. In 1975, at the Hôtel Drouot, the Paris auction rooms, he met Renoir at the famous sale organized there by Renoir, Monet, Sisley and Berthe Morisot. The sale was not a success, and they were not even able to pay all the expenses. In 1876 Renoir painted Chocquet's gentle, pensive face, and then made a portrait of his wife. Renoir introduced him to Cézanne, who also painted him several times: first in 1877 and again in the summer of 1886 when he was staying at Chocquet's place at Hattenville, in Normandy. It is indeed amazing that when he died the collection of this minor civil servant comprised, among others, 32 Cézannes, 11 Monets, 11 Renoirs and 5 Manets, as well as some drawings and water-colours. This collection was sold by Madame Chocquet on the 3rd and 4th of July, 1899, at a considerable profit. The famous Mardi Gras by Cézanne fetched 4,400 francs, a record price for the time.
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