Paul Durand-Ruel: the man who saved Impressionism

Such goodwill was reciprocated. In 1884, when Durand-Ruel was in difficulties with his creditors again, Renoir wrote: “If you need me, please consider me entirely at your disposal, whatever may occur. I will always be loyal to you … If you are obliged to make a sacrifice when it comes to the paintings, regret nothing. I will paint other, better ones for you.”

Salvation finally came from thousands of miles away. In 1885 Durand-Ruel was invited to exhibit in New York by James Sutton, the director of the American Art Association. Encouraged by the growing American footfall in his Paris gallery, Durand-Ruel agreed, and packed up about 300 works to take with him across the Atlantic.

He was already something of a folk hero on American soil for his championing of the Barbizon school of Realist painters a generation earlier. “People came without the least prejudice to study the works of my new friends,”

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