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Dealers in the history of art
2018-08-29 15:00


“An artist cannot be a great artist alone.” We should think about this sentence. Artistic works’ supporter and art dealers played an important role in introducing artistic works and then the creator of the works over art history. We can start from Italian Renaissance when we can see great masters of art like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Raphael Sanzio. They had amazing talents, but if Pop leaders or unconquered ruler of Florence, Lorenzo Medici, didn’t support them, they couldn’t be famous to this extent. In Renaissance time when we look at northern Europe we can see artists like Albrecht Durer and others who are known as legendary artists because of the King of that time’s supports. After Renaissance, in Baroque age, we can see Caravaggio who lived a poorly life. He was paid attention by a rich virtuoso, Francesco Del Monte, and then he became famous and received lots of orders. After that, in golden age in Netherland, we can see that this region educated lots of artists in 17th century; among them, Rembrandt became very famous from his youth and he received lots of supports. He faced ups and downs in his life and if the dealers didn’t support him, he would lose his life. In 18th century in Spain, we can see painters like Diego Velasquez and Francisco Goya who were supported by the king of that time, otherwise they couldn’t apply their talent. With this introduction and proving the role of supporters in artists’ life, we will introduce some famous art supporter and businessman who lived in two recent centuries.

Goupil & Cie

Goupil & Cie has a special position among art businessmen and dealers. This company was established by Adolf Goupil in Paris in 1827 and after lots of changes in the name of company, eventually it became Goupil & Cie. As this company developed, it established some branches in England (London), Germany (Berlin), Belgium (Brussels), Netherland (Hague), Austria (Vienna), and America (New York). This company played an important part in introducing artists and their works to the European by selling, buying, and presenting Academic painters and Barbizon doctrine artists and also Impressionists’ works. It is interesting to know that three of Vincent Van Gogh’s uncles were art dealers. His uncle became one of the partners of this company and passed successful years of his life. Theo, Vincent's brother, also passed a successful period in this Gallery and appointed as the manager of Paris branch in 1880. Vincent himself worked in Goupil for three years, but he wasn’t successful at and he was deposed from this position in 1876.

Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922) – Discoverer of Impressionism

Impressionism doctrine was an important doctrine in 19th century that was formed in Paris. In 1863, lots of artistic works were rejected for the Gallery in Paris; the primitive works of Impressionists painters were among them. After that event, a gallery was held with the name of rejected Gallery that all of rejected works were presented in this Gallery. Paul Durand-Ruel found out the value of Impressionists’ works and started to buy these works from early 1870s. The formal advent of Impressionism was in an exhibition in the Gallery of famous photographer, Felix Nadar; and one of Oscar-Claude Monet’s work entitled Impressionism with the purpose of ridiculing, after that this doctrine famed with the title of Impressionism. The exhibition in 1874 was the first exhibition of Impressionist painters. The role of Doran Ruel is undeniable in this period. He bought hundreds of Impressionist works, gave subscriptions to the Impressionist artists, and also traded these works. He held the second exhibition of Impressionist works in his private Gallery with more than 250 works from painters like Oscar-Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley. Then he began to introduce, present, and advertise the Impressionist works all over the Europe. With holding exhibition out of France borders, Durand-Ruel played an important part in introducing the Impressionist doctrine and artists to the world. It was estimated that Paul Durand-Ruel Bought and Sold more than 12 thousand of artistic works in his life, that most of them were Impressionist works. We can understand Durand-Ruel works for Impressionist painters with this sentence from Pierre Auguste Renoir: “if Doran Ruel didn’t help us, we (Impressionist painters) died from hunger”.

Georges Pettit (1856-1920)

Georges Pettit was another art dealer in France in late 19th and early 20th century. He inherited a Gallery and lots of money from his father, Francois Pettit, in his 19th. He began to buy and sell artistic works from his youth. In the late 1870s, he began to buy Impressionist works, especially Oscar-Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley’s works. And he had the most impact in increasing their works’ price. He started to support his contemporaneous artists by holding exhibitions in his Gallery, and he played an important role in introducing them and their works. In that time that most of collectors and art lovers interested in buying old works, Georges Pettit besides his material and spiritual helps to artists, bought his contemporaneous artists’ works with his forethought. And eventually he gained lots of interests by buying these works.

Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939)

Ambroise Vollard was another art dealers in 19th and 20th centuries. Besides buying artists’ works like Paul Cézanne and Impressionist works, he also paid attention to the younger artists like Paul Gauguin, André Derain, and Pablo Picasso. Vollard had much interest in Cézanne’s works and held his first exhibition with more than 150 works in his private Gallery. Cézanne’s works were not limited to a special style, and faced lots of critiques. However, Vollard supported him and his works and by buying lots of his works and holding exhibitions and selling them with high prices, helped him to find his position in art community of that time. Volar also supported Pablo Picasso, and held his first exhibition in his Gallery in 1901. Picasso had a poorly life, but after getting familiar with Volar, his life changed and developed. Besides buying, selling, and presenting artists’ works, Vollard began to sell their imprints. Picasso, Raoul Dufy, and Georges Henri Rouault’s imprints were the valuable imprints among them. In addition to support artists, Ambroise Vollard compiled biography of Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, and Paul Cézanne.

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1979)

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler was a German-French art dealer in 20th century. He was a banker, then he became interested in art, went to Paris and established his small Gallery in 1907. At first he began to buy Paul Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Auguste Renoir, and Paul Signac's works. Then he concluded to pay attention to his contemporaneous artists: “I applauded Cézanne and loved Gauguin. When I started to trade artistic works, I decided to buy Cézanne’s works, but he belonged to the former age, and then I decided to pay attention to my age.” He got familiar with the new style of Picasso painting, Cubism, and started to support him and his works. He also supported other Cubists like André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Fernand Henri Léger; and by presenting their works in his Gallery, started to advertise and support Cubism doctrine. Kahnweiler did the work for cubism that Paul Durand Ruel did so for impressionism. Kahnweiler didn’t have a fortune eventual; by starting the First World War in 1914, Kahnweiler as a German citizen, known as an enemy and he escaped from France inevitably. All of the works in his Gallery that were more than 3000, were auctioned by France government, and he lost all his assets. Then he came back to the France and started his work in 1920.

Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979)

We mentioned some art dealers in France above, now we want to mention an American art dealer. Peggy Guggenheim is the daughter of famous businessman, Benjamin Guggenheim who was killed in Titanic’s incident in 1912, and also is the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim. Solomon R. Guggenheim was a famous art collector and he was known as the establisher of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Peggy Guggenheim inherited lots of money from her father in 1919, and started to support her contemporaneous artists and buy their works. She established her Gallery in London in 1938, and began to support Abstractionist, Cubist, Dadaist, Surrealist artists and other modern artistic movements. Among these artists, her support from abstract expressionist, Paul Jackson Pollock, was tangible and had effect on the artist’s artistic future. With presenting the works of contemporary American artist in Italia in 1948, Guggenheim introduced them and their works to the Europe.

In this short article, we attempted to have an overview on art supporters and dealers and their impacts on Artists’ life and works, and then to conclude that: “An artist cannot be a great artist alone”. An artist should find a supporter for their works, otherwise they spend their life in poverty, and cannot develop their works. And the world cannot benefit from their masterpieces. Certainly we had lots of artists through the history that didn’t have a supporter, so they couldn’t be stagnate in history.

by Fallen R.

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