Dealer’s Impressions – Inventing Impressionism

The role of the art dealer and the importance of the galleries that they run has always played a vital role in the development and publicity of a particular artist. In certain cases and situations, it can even be said to have played a major role in the establishment of a particular art market, or to have changed the direction of the art world.

Throughout time those men and women who had the time and money to devote to the creative arts have helped set benchmarks for standards in artistic work. These people may have been the powerful figures of the past Kings and Queens, Popes and European nobility, the famous houses of Italian, French or English aristocracy, the Medici’s for example.

They were also the more humble people who dealt with artists and ensured that art that was being commissioned came to completion at the right time. As a more broad and commercial art market developed towards the Eighteenth and into the Nineteenth Century the role of the art dealer expanded.

English aristocrats on the Grand Tour would have sought expert advice on Roman artefacts being purchased for return to a newly commissioned Stately home being built in the English Shires. Art buyers in Egypt and the Orient would likewise have ensured a specialist advised them on authenticity, provenance and pedigree. More often than not critically on how to also spot a fake! The role then of the art dealer was established giving the chance for an artist to emerge and to demonstrate to clients why and how art work was important.

One of the Godfather’s of the art market today was Parisian dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. He pioneered gallery representation, solo shows and the development of an artist’s name. Setting down in the Nineteenth Century how we still purchase and understand art today. He, of course, had the Impressionist’s under his wing and would go on by supporting and nurturing, helping with domestic life and bills which ultimately ensured that Monet, Pissarro and Degas amongst others could survive and thrive in daily life to become masters of their art.

The show “Inventing Impressionism” arrives in London this week on it’s World tour, fresh from the Musee de Luxembourg. It tells Durand-Ruel’s story through the masterpieces that went on to make his fortune – some of the best loved works ever painted. The show runs at the National Gallery from March 4-May 31.

To coincide with the new exhibition, view our collection of Impressionist masterpieces…


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