DURAND-RUEL Paul
( 1831-1922). The influence of the great picture dealers on the development of painting in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been considerable, probably owing to the fact that at the beginning they acted, more often than not, out of disinterested enthusiasm. Durand-Ruel was first a friend of Corot, Millet, Théodore Rousseau and Boudin, and gave them both moral and material support, sharing their enthusiasm and their disappointment, and disposing of their canvases for them, often with reluctance. He was most heroic in his backing of the Impressionists in 1870. In 1871 he fled to London, and there made the acquaintance of Monet and Pissarro. On his return to Paris in 1872 he bought twentythree canvases from Manet for 35,000 francs. For more than ten years Durand-Ruel did his utmost to popularize the Impressionist works, which no one wanted and everyone condemned. That is how Manet, Renoir, Monet, Sisley, Cézanne, Degas and Pissarro became his friends, and the correspondence that he carried on with each of them contains many pathetic letters. He was really a philanthropist, and narrowly escaped bankruptcy before he succeeded in interesting America in the new school in 1886. In the history of Impressionism his name is linked particularly with the second exhibition of the group, which he arranged in his premises at No. 11 Rue Le Peletier in 1876, as a protest against the pigheadedness of the official Salon, which refused to accept the adherents of the new school. It was because of this exhibition (which came up against the most violent hostility) that Duranty wrote his famous book in support of the New Painting. The stubborn refusal of French collectors to accept the Impressionists made Durand-Ruel decide to open galleries in London, Brussels, Vienna, and finally in New York in 1887.
In spite of all this, when Fénéon congratulated him on his eventual success, Durand-Ruel replied; 'It is the collectors that we have to thank for that'.
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