Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting
June 24–September 13, 2015
This summer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents a ground-breaking exhibition examining the early struggles and ultimate triumph of the artists who became known as the Impressionists and the role played by the visionary Parisian art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in their success. Including masterworks by Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Mary Cassatt, Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting spans the period of 1865 through 1905. The exhibition begins when Durand-Ruel inherited his family’s art gallery and invested in the work of innovative painters such as Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, and Jean-François Millet. It then focuses on the decisive moment when he encountered the new and luminous paintings of the Impressionists that evoked a changing, modern world. It continues through the 1880s, when Durand-Ruel opened markets for the artists’ work in the United States, and the early 20th century, when the artistic genius of the Impressionists finally achieved international renown. It reunites for the first time key paintings from early Impressionist exhibitions, some of which have not been seen in the United States in decades, or ever before. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be the exhibition’s only U.S. venue.
Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “This landmark exhibition brings together a remarkable group of masterpieces from collections throughout the world to explore a chapter in the history of art that still captures our imagination. It tells the fascinating story of an enterprising art dealer who made an early and daring investment in these young artists, and essentially created the modern art market in the face of bankruptcy and public ridicule. Many great Impressionist collections today, including those of the Musée d’Orsay and the National Gallery, London—our partners in the development of this exhibition—were formed with works that passed through his hands.”
Over a period of forty years, Durand-Ruel purchased around 12,000 pictures, including, roughly, 1,000 by Monet, 1,500 by Renoir, 400 each by Degas and Sisley, 800 by Pissarro, 200 by Manet, and 400 by Cassatt. He became a powerful driving force behind Impressionism, making it a household name. As Monet would recall in 1924, about two years after the dealer’s death, “Without Durand, we would have died of hunger, all us Impressionists.”
The art dealer was introduced to Monet and Pissarro in London in 1871, where he began to exhibit and acquire their work. Soon he was buying Impressionist paintings on an unprecedented scale. Discovering the Impressionists recreates the boldness of this moment, displaying several of these early purchases, including Monet’s views of London (Philadelphia Museum of Art and National Gallery, London), Pissarro’s The Avenue, Sydenham (National Gallery, London), Sisley’s The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Degas’s Dance Foyer of the Opera at the rue Le Peletier (Musée d’Orsay).
The exhibition also restages the dramatic moment in 1872 when Durand-Ruel purchased twenty-six paintings by Manet, a visionary acquisition that marked a turning point in the career of this controversial and innovative artist. From that remarkable acquisition, Discovering the Impressionists reunites such major works as Moonlight at the Port of Boulogne (Musée d’Orsay), The Battle of the U.S.S. “Kearsarge” and the C.S.S. “Alabama” (Philadelphia Museum of Art), and The Salmon (Shelburne Museum). They are presented along with Boy with a Sword (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
The exhibition reassembles key paintings from the important Impressionist exhibition held at Durand-Ruel’s gallery in 1876, revealing how he advanced the artists’ careers and came into close contact with Berthe Morisot and others. Public response to that exhibition was deeply divided, with the press vociferously dismissing many of the works, while literary figures such as Henry James and Stéphane Mallarmé voiced support.
Discovering the Impressionists also focuses on the importance of solo exhibitions, a novel concept that Durand-Ruel pioneered for his artists, most notably with Monet in 1883 and 1892. Demonstrating the impact of the 1883 exhibition are La Pointe de la Hève, Sainte-Adresse (National Gallery, London), Train in the Snow (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris), and Apple Galettes (Private Collection), a large-scale still-life depicting pastry tarts that is on view for the first time in the United States. From Monet’s famous 1892 exhibition of 15 paintings of poplar trees along the banks of a river near Giverny, six are reassembled from collections around the world to examine in depth the artist’s serial approach to this now celebrated subject.
In 1905, Durand-Ruel organized the largest exhibition of Impressionism ever, at the Grafton Galleries in London, including more than 300 works by Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, and others. Among the paintings reassembled in Philadelphia will be Manet’s Music in the Tuileries Gardens (National Gallery, London), Monet’s Coal Carriers (Musée d’Orsay), Pissarro’s Pont Boieldieu, Rouen, Rainy Weather (Art Gallery of Ontario), Degas’s Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando (National Gallery, London), and Renoir’s Cup of Chocolate (Private Collection), the last of which has not been seen in the United States since 1937. Reproductions of period photographs that convey the Grafton exhibition’s unrivaled scale and ambition will also be on display, underscoring this triumphal moment in Durand-Ruel’s career.
Beginning in 1883, while the Impressionists struggled for acceptance in Europe, Durand-Ruel took his artists’ works to the United States. Opening a gallery in New York in 1887, he began to play a pivotal role in the formation of American collections. Among the paintings he sold to collectors in this country are Degas’s The Ballet Class (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Morisot’s Woman at Her Toilette (Art Institute of Chicago). Displayed together are Renoir’s large-scale Dance at Bougival (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Dance in the Country (Musée d’Orsay), and Dance in the City (Musée d’Orsay). Also included in this section is Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath (Art Institute of Chicago) and Sisley’s View of Saint-Mammès (Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh).
The final gallery of the exhibition is dedicated to Durand-Ruel’s personal collection, which was housed in the family’s apartment in Paris. It brings together an intimate arrangement of these works for the first time, including family portraits by Renoir, a sculpture in marble by Auguste Rodin, and a salon door composed of still life and floral panels painted by Monet.
Jennifer Thompson, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1900 and the Rodin Museum, stated: “Durand-Ruel and the history of Impressionism are to a large degree inseparable. From brilliant landscapes to riveting portraits of French leisure, the exhibition will demonstrate his unceasing commitment to fostering an appreciation for the work of these artists.”
Note to Editors
About Paul Durand-Ruel
In 1865, Paul Durand-Ruel (1831–1922) inherited a gallery founded by his parents. By the early 1870s, when he discovered the young artists who would become known as the Impressionists, he began to promote their work. His innovative strategies included acquiring the work of the artists he favored in depth; gaining exclusivity in selling their work by offering them monthly stipends; hosting monographic or solo exhibitions; and establishing branches in London, Brussels, and New York that drew him into contact with influential and daring collectors around the world. When he was eighty-eight years old, the dealer declared: “At last the Impressionist masters triumphed. My madness had been wisdom. To think that, had I passed away at sixty, I would have died debt-ridden and bankrupt, surrounded by a wealth of underrated treasures.”
The exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by the National Gallery, London, and by the Réunion des musées nationaux–Grand Palais in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
The exhibition is made possible by The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Robert Lehman Foundation, Christie’s, The Annenberg Endowment for Special Exhibitions, and The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions. Additional support has been provided by Dennis Alter, Steve and Gretchen Burke, Maude de Schauensee, John and Gloria Drosdick, Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky, Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Linck, Martha Hamilton Morris and I. Wistar Morris III, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Thalheimer, Bruce and Robbi Toll, Margaret and David Langfitt, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, Constance and Sankey Williams, and other generous donors. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Research assistance is generously provided by the Durand-Ruel Archives in Paris.
Promotional support is provided by NBC10, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Philadelphia, and Sunoco.
Credits as of June 15, 2015
Joseph J. Rishel is The Gisela and Dennis Alter Senior Curator of European Painting before 1900 and Senior Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection and the Rodin Museum. He has curated many exhibitions, notably Cézanne (1996); Tesoros/Treasures/Tesouros: The Arts in Latin America, 1492–1820 (2006); Van Gogh Up Close (2012); and Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting (June 24–September 13, 2015). In 2010–11, Rishel served as the Samuel H. Kress Professor at the National Gallery of Art, becoming the senior resident scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). In 2014, he was guest scholar at the Getty Research Institute, Getty Center, Los Angeles. Rishel received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hobart College in 1962 and his master of arts in art history from the University of Chicago in 1968 before serving as a lecturer and then Associate Curator of Earlier Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1972, he was appointed Associate Curator of European Painting before 1900 and the John G. Johnson Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Jennifer A. Thompson is The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1900 and the Rodin Museum. She has curated exhibitions on subjects such as John Constable and Jacob van Ruisdael, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, and golf in 19th-century Scotland. In 2012 she completed a three-year project to renovate and reinterpret the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. In 1995, she received her Master of Arts degree in art history and medieval history and in 2001 a doctorate in art history from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. She joined the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Department of European Painting in 1999 as a Research Associate for the exhibition Leaves of Gold: Treasures of Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections.
Dorrance Galleries, first floor
(includes complimentary audio tour)
Adults $25Seniors $23Students and Youths 13–18 $20Children ages 5–12 $12Children 4 and under Free
Tickets are available by calling 215-235-7469 or online at philamuseum.org (a service charge of $3.50 applies).
Weekday afternoon priceThe Museum offers discounted tickets for weekdays beginning at 3:00 p.m. for $20 through July 31.
Special student priceStudents with valid school ID may purchase discounted tickets for weekdays after noon for $15 through July 31, 2015. Tickets are available at the Museum only and are subject to availability. This special offer cannot be combined with other offers.
Military discountThe Museum offers military personnel and their guests a discounted adult ticket for $20 through September 7, 2015, Labor Day, based on availability.
Tuesday –Sunday: 11:00 a.m. start; last ticket 3:30 p.m.Wednesday and Friday: 11:00 a.m. start; last ticket 7:30 p.m.Labor Day: 10:00 a.m. public start; last ticket 3:30 p.m.
Exhibition tour dates
Musée du Luxembourg, ParisOctober 8, 2014–February 8, 2015
National Gallery, LondonMarch 4–May 31, 2015
Philadelphia Museum of ArtJune 24–September 13, 2015
Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Wednesday and Friday until 8:45 p.m.
Discovering the Impressionists is edited by Sylvie Patry, with contributions by Anne Robbins, Christopher Riopelle, Joseph J. Rishel, and Jennifer A. Thompson, and Anne Distel, Flavie Durand Ruel, Paul Louis Durand Ruel, Dorothee Hansen, Simon Kelly, and John Zarobell (paper over board; 304 pages, with 150 color illustrations; $65.00) ISBN: 978-0-87633-261-0. The catalogue is published by the National Gallery, London, where the British edition was titled Inventing Impressionism: Paul Durand Ruel and the Modern Art Market.
One of the most forward thinking art dealers of all time, Paul Durand Ruel (1831–1922) played a crucial role in the rise of French Impressionism and the fortunes of its great artists, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting explores how Durand Ruel discovered, exhibited, and shaped an audience for Impressionist paintings at a time when they were not yet appreciated.
Durand Ruel first encountered key Impressionist painters in the early 1870s and guided many of their careers for decades. A passionate advocate of the Impressionists, he established personal ties with these artists and developed new markets for them by opening branches of his Paris gallery in London, Brussels, and New York. Featuring essays by leading scholars, this handsome volume provides a biography of the man and the trajectory of his career. It also examines his relationships with artists and buyers and his groundbreaking business practices, such as embracing the idea of the solo show, publishing art reviews, and paying artists stipends—often at great financial risk and personal cost to himself. Illustrated with archival documents, historic photographs, and paintings by artists such as Degas, Monet, Renoir, and Édouard Manet, this major contribution to the study of art and commerce transforms our understanding of the development of Impressionism.
Wednesday, July 29Garden SoiréeAn Impressionist art party in the Sculpture Garden, featuring Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, lawn games, French-themed music, and food trucks
Art After 5
Friday, June 26Great Stair Hall, first floorParisian CabaretSee the Museum transformed into a bustling Parisian nightclub. Live, hot jazz and a variety show of dance and circus-like performances provide a taste of the “City of Light.”
Talks & Tours
Sunday, June 21, 2:00 p.m.Van Pelt AuditoriumPaul Durand-Ruel: Friend and Art Dealer of the ImpressionistsLearn from members of his family about Paul Durand-Ruel’s career as an art dealer, his interest in the work of the Impressionists, and his support of these artists.Free ticket requiredMuseum admission not required to attend
Wednesday, June 17Wine Tasting & PairingMaster the proper techniques to taste, evaluate, and classify French wines. Use your new knowledge to pair delicious wines with your favorite summer dishes.$45 ($40 for members)
In conjunction with the exhibition, the new Exhibition on Screen, The Impressionists and the Man Who Made Them, will be presented for one night, July 14, in over 300 movie theaters across the United States, at 7 p.m. The film has benefited from the unprecedented access to Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting. It features a behind-the-scenes look at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its partner institutions in Paris and London as they prepared for the exhibition. It includes interviews with scholars who developed the exhibition, including Jennifer Thompson. Tickets for the film are available at fathomevents.com/event/the-impressionists
The Museum stores will offer gifts and souvenirs commemorating the Discovering the Impressionists exhibition. Among the highlights are framed reproductions of six of Claude Monet’s celebrated canvases of poplars, memorably reunited in the exhibition, and painted near Giverny along the banks of the Epte River ($175 set).
A hand-painted silk satin sarong, which doubles as a shawl, is among the exclusive textiles created by Philadelphia artist Kevin O’Brien in colors and patterns that resonate with Impressionism ($250).
The stores feature items perfect for summer luncheons and garden parties that reflect Impressionist landscapes. Monet’s Palate Cookbook includes 60 recipes from the artist’s kitchen garden, along with photographs and detailed descriptions that capture Monet’s daily life ($30). Vintage French ceramic cake plates are offered, as are dessert plates with hand-painted floral designs and basket weave and scroll accents. Examples include designs with stenciled cherries and hand-painted edges by Longwy of France, Limoges porcelain, and Japonisme-inspired coasters. Period-style table linens in French toile and Vichy gingham check include cocktail, brunch, and traditional napkins ($14 to $40) and tablecloths ($135 to $162).
For artists and others who pursue their own creative spirit, the stores have cotton sketchpads ($16) and a full-size folding French sketch box easel ($325), handcrafted of elm wood with brass and brass-plated hardware.
Framed cards, prints, and posters of other works in the exhibition are also available ($20–$375).
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has partnered with 15 area hotels to offer a Discovering the Impressionists hotel package, which includes two tickets for the acclaimed touring exhibition, on view from June 24 through September 13, 2015. Philadelphia is the only US city to present the exhibition. Works by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, Manet, Cassatt and others are gathered from public and private collections around the world.
The hotel packages offer accommodation for two guests, and two exhibition tickets, valued at $30 each, that enable visitors to see the exhibition with no date or time restrictions during public hours. Hotel ticket holders will also receive special savings in select Museum stores and a complimentary dessert with the purchase of a Chef’s Table meal at Granite Hill, the Museum’s Stephen Starr restaurant, when they show their ticket.
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