Photograph of Paul Durand-Ruel in his gallery, taken by Dornac, about 1910, Archives Durand-Ruel © Durand-Ruel & Cie
The National Gallery is opening a new exhibition this March, Inventing Impressionism, which is the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to the man who is widely recognised as inventing impressionism, Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). Known as an entrepreneurial art dealer, Duran-Ruel discovered and unwaveringly supported the impressionist painters and is today considered as the founding father of the international art markets as we know them. The ground-breaking exhibition looks to lift the veil on the pivotal figure that discovered Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Renior in the early 1870s, immediately buying their work when they were still largely ignored or ridiculed.
Inventing Impressionism includes around 85 works and will feature a number of Impressionism’s great masterpieces that have never been seen in the UK before now. Such pictures, the vast majority of which were dealt by Durand-Ruel, are borrowed from the key European and American collections he helped form, as well as some taken from collections in Japan. With great artistic flair and fantastic commercial insight, Durand-Ruel developed unprecedented business stratergies, which included stock building, exclusivity, and one-man shows of ‘his’ artists. His Paris based business soon turned into a global firm as he opened branch galleries in London, Brussels and New York, which staged countless exhibitions and turned the fortunes of impressionism.
The exhibition presents a series of rarely seen portraits of the dealer and his children painted by Renoir and exhibited in the UK for the first time. Other highlights will include no less than five paintings from Monet’s ‘Poplars’ series, which Durand-Ruel exhibited together as a group for the first time in 1892 and all three of Renoir’s famous ‘Dances’, which haven’t been seen together in this country since 1985. The exhibition will follow key events from Durand-Ruel’s career in a broadly chronological order, which is intrinsically linked to the impressionist painters rise to fame. The culmination of Inventing Impressionism evokes an exhibition which Durand-Ruel organised in London in 1905, which remains to this day the largest show of impressionist paintings ever attempted anywhere, and included a staggering 315 paintings. The exhibition opens on the 4th March so be sure to get down and see it.National Gallery Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DN