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Book Reviews: Paul Durand-Ruel, Memoir of the First Impressionist Art Dealer

These are the intriguing if fairly dense memoirs of a key figure from the era of the Impressionists, about whom Claude Monet said, “Without him, we would all have died of hunger”.

Durand-Ruel (1831-1922) was an art dealer who, firstly, keenly advocated the Barbizon school of artists – a visit to the village itself, where Jean-François Millet lived and worked, is a worthwhile day trip from Paris – then moved onto promoting and befriending the leading lights of Impressionism.

These memoirs, which may only appeal to serious art lovers, have been annotated and revised with familial pride by his great-great grandson and his great-great-great grandaughter.

We can only wonder what Durand-Ruel would have made of Sotheby’s New York sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in November 2014, which netted the auction house a cool $422 million in a single evening!

Paul Durand-Ruel: Memoir of the First Impressionist Art Dealer (1831-1922) Published by Flammarion. List price €38

From France Today magazine

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