Under the title Inventing Impressionism: The Man Who Sold a Thousand Monets, the National Gallery in London recently mounted an exhibition about Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). It’s just finished, but don’t worry if you didn’t see it, I’m about to tell you why you shouldn’t have. This is how it was presented on the website:
This spring, the National Gallery presents the UK’s first major exhibition devoted to the man who invented Impressionism, Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). An entrepreneurial art dealer, Durand-Ruel discovered and unwaveringly supported the Impressionist painters and is now considered a founding father of the international art market as we know it today.
I would like to be somewhat picky. One man invented Impressionism? Can this be right? In what sense did a dealer invent Impressionism?
Clearly the artists were the origin of the paintings. The first show was in 1874; it was an artist-led independent initiative that then was