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The great art collectors: Paul Durand-Ruel

“The figure of the collector is central to the history of art,” said Mikhail Alshibaya, owner of the largest collection of non-conformist art in Russia. The heroes of our series of posts about great collectors prove that this is true. Today we are talking about the collector who discovered impressionist painters - Paul Durand-Ruel.

Александр Саган, "Охота", шелкография

Coming from a family of art connoisseurs, Durand-Ruel (1831-1922) had access to an extensive art collection since childhood and thoroughly studied the laws of the art market. Once he met and fell in love with the art of the Impressionists, he not only successfully applied his knowledge in practice, but also invented his own rules that art dealers still follow.

In fact, Durand-Ruel was the first art dealer in the modern sense of the word. He acquired paintings by young artists, tried hard to make them famous, got monopoly on their works. He manipulated the market at auctions: he hired secret agents to raise prices and pretended he bought works of his artists for art collectors while he bought them for himself. 

Having excellent communicative skills, he persuaded artists to agree to work with him on favorable terms. “Paint me a beautiful landscapes, like the one you sold to Eiman so cheaply. That one was very good, it’s a pity I didn’t buy it. Look for conspicuous views, this is the main key to success. Leave the figures for now or just use them as staffage - I think landscapes sell best today, ”he wrote to Pissarro. The great impressionist obeyed without complaint, however, just like all other painters-founders of modernism he worked with. 

Александр Хоровский, "Мужчины в телегах", шелкография

Durand-Ruel's influence extended far beyond France. Taking advantage of the emergence of industrial magnates in America at the end of the 19th century, he opened the way for the Impressionists to America, and for himself - to enrichment. The Americans were known not only for their wealth, but also for their openness to everything new: compared to Europeans, they were more willing to buy Impressionist works from him, which eventually allowed him to open a gallery in New York.

It’s an interesting fact that the French marchand also influenced the development of Russian art. If it wasn't for him, Ivan Morozov's collection would not have been enriched with two Cezannes, and Wassily Kandinsky wouldn’t have seen Monet's "Haystacks" at the exhibition of Impressionist art organized by Ruel and wouldn’t have switched to abstraction.




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