Paul Durand-Ruel

PAUL DURAND-RUEL (1831 - 1922)


A great collector of Impressionist art and famous art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel is a visionary and avant-garde. Endowed with an indisputable flair, he took the risk of betting on the artists of the Barbizon School and the impressionists - who were causing a scandal at the time - and introduced revolutionary innovations in the way the art market worked. MyStudiolo retraces the life of this patron and friend of modern painters who wanted to turn academic art upside down, in:

6 key dates 4 artworks 3 anecdotes 1 quote

1831 Paul was born in Paris. Typical Bourgeois, his parents run a store which is both a paper shop and an artist's equipment store. They gradually gave up this activity to devote themselves to the much more lucrative trade in paintings. The, they exhibit the works of artists such as Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix.

1865 When his father died in 1865, Paul Durand-Ruel developed the activity by giving even more importance to his gallery and quickly had to expand his exhibition rooms, one in London and another in Brussels. To support his artists, he created the International Revue de l'Art et de la Curiosité.

1872 On his return from London, Paul embarked on the promotion of his new proteges - Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, Sisley - who repelled the Academy so much. Their painting is the opposite of what he shows in his gallery, Bouguereau, Cabanel or Chassériau - whose canvases, which sell well, keep the shop going. For dozens of years, he will fight, even risking his personal fortune, to defend Impressionism.

1886 New York branch opens and it's a success. The oil, railroad and steel magnates are buying heavily, gradually reviving a company on the brink of crisis. Thanks to its success in the United States, the works of Impressionist artists will gradually be appreciated in France, Germany and the rest of Europe. Impressionism is definitely launched.

1905 The art dealer's gallery is hailed as a “second Louvre”. Freely open to visitors, his collector’s apartment was transformed into a magnificent museum of contemporary art. On the other side of the Channel, Paul is organizing the most outstanding Impressionist exhibition to ever take place.

1922 He died in his apartment in the Rome street. At the end of his life, Paul had written in his Memoirs: "At last the Impressionist masters triumphed as those of 1830 had triumphed. My folly had been wisdom." To say that if I had died at sixty, I would die riddled with debt and insolvent, among little-known treasures… ”.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance in Bougival 1883

Berthe Morisot, Woman at her toilette, 1875

Claude Monet, Reader, 1872

Edgar Degas, Ironers, 1882


  • In 1922, Paul Durand-Ruel passed away after having been decorated with the Legion of Honor two years earlier, but, ironically, not for Fine Arts but for Foreign Trade.

  • As a true visionary, Paul imposed a new dynamic on the art market based on innovative principles: Protecting art above all; the exclusivity of the artists' work; individual exhibitions: a network of international galleries; free access to galleries; promote artists through the press; to associate the world of art with that of finance.

  • Between 1891 and 1922, Paul Durand-Ruel bought nearly 12,000 paintings. Among these works are more than 1,000 Monet, around 1,500 Renoir, more than 400 Degas and as many Sisley and Boudin, around 800 Pissarro, nearly 200 Manet and nearly 400 Mary Cassatt.

« I come to my great crime, the one that overshadows all the others. For a long time I have been purchasing and praising to the sky works by some highly original and highly knowledgeable painters, several of whom are geniuses, and I intend to have art lovers accept them »

Paul Durand-Ruel, referring to the Impressionists

Discover the exhibition Paul Durand-Ruel, the gamble of the Impressionists at the Musée du Luxembourg

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