July 25, 2021

Meet the post-impressionists of art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel

The merchant Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922) will have marked the history of the art of his century, the XIXe. Known for having been the defender of the Belle Ecole of 1830, improperly called the School of Barbizon (Théodore Rousseau, Courbet, Millet …), and above all, subsequently, of the Impressionists that he supported and imposed, he was also precious for the next generation, which appeared in the mid-1890s, the post-impressionists, less innovative than their predecessors, from whom they more or less stood out without completely breaking with them, unlike the Fauves, the Cubists and the Nabis, their contemporaries.

In Yerres, in Essonne, La Ferme adornée, one of the main buildings of the Caillebotte property, a house that belonged to the painter Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), presents five post-impressionist painters with whom Paul Durand-Ruel was linked by a moral exclusivity contract: Henry Moret, Maxime Maufra, and Gustave Loiseau, as well as Georges d’Espagnat and Albert André.

Bold visionary

Half of the sixty canvases on display are loaned by French (Orsay, Pont-Aven, Lambinet, etc.) and foreign museums (Geneva, Leipzig, the Vatican), and the other half by private collectors. Most of these had never been shown to the public before. The unique portrait of the gallery owner, due to Renoir, welcomes the visitor on the threshold of the exhibition as a host would with his guests.

Paul Durand-Ruel revolutionized his profession with the systematic purchase of the productions of his foals, the monthly payment of their income, the organization of exhibitions …

The visit begins on the first floor and takes us to Normandy and Brittany with Moret, Maufra and Loiseau. These three landscape architects and marinists follow in the wake of Impressionism, to which they nevertheless bring significant changes. This is not the case for d’Espagnat and André, whose works are presented on the ground floor, who break with the aesthetics of their predecessors by prioritizing genre scenes and decorative painting over landscapes. The intensity of d’Espagnat’s colors brings him closer to the wild animals, while Albert André is the one who took the most distance from the Impressionism of his beginnings, as evidenced by his paintings of Nabi inspiration.

The exhibition, which reflects the tastes of Paul Durand-Ruel, also makes it possible to better understand the man and his contribution to art, thanks to the catalog, very documented (ed. Property Caillebotte / In Fine, 160 pages, 29 euros ), due to the two curators and art historians, Claire Durand-Ruel, her great-great-granddaughter, and Jacques-Sylvain Klein. Their work reveals a daring visionary, who revolutionized his profession with the systematic purchase of the productions of his foals, exclusivity on their work, the monthly payment of their income, the support of their quotation in public sales, the organization of exhibitions. individual and collective in its galleries in Paris, Brussels, London and New York.

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