The man who midwifed impressionism

In 1870, as war smoldered between France and Prussia, art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel made his way from Paris to London to escape the intensifying hostilities.

There, the 39-year-old gallery owner met his future: two other temporary exiles, painters Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, progenitors of what was to become known as impressionism.

Impressionism became the dealer’s enduring passion and a defining element of Western art. On June 24, “Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting” opens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it will run through Sept. 13, its only U.S. stop.

This extraordinary exhibition brings together 95 paintings that passed through Durand-Ruel’s gallery – 95 paintings that stand in for the thousands more he purchased, and for the revolution this prescient, persistent man midwifed for a skeptical French elite and, ultimately, for a curious and enthusiastic receptive America.

The paintings

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