The Purveyor of Modern Life

As early as 1870, the Parisian dealer Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922) saw the brilliance — and the market potential — of a vanguard group of young artists reacting against academic tradition in their paintings of contemporary life. At the time, many critics and much of the French public refused to call their plein air dabs and dashes of color art. Durand-Ruel took a risk in promoting Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, among others, providing them with monthly stipends, one-person exhibitions and catalogues — now-standard practices that he pioneered. He won over progressive patrons from the U.S., who embraced this new art. "The American public does not laugh. It buys!" he once quipped. On November 4, in its Imp/mod sale in New York, Sotheby’s offers seven works from the Durand-Ruel Collection.

"The Purveyor of Modern Life"" originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Art+Auction. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Art+Auction's November 2009 Table of Contents.