I visited the Inventing Impressionism exhibition at the National Gallery on Sunday. Subtitled Paul Durand-Ruel and the Modern Art Market, the exhibition looks at the role of Parisian art dealer Durand-Ruel in championing and promoting the Impressionist painters. Though Impressionism is now well-respected and loved, this was not always the case – when this new kind of art first began to emerge, most critics and members of the public shunned and mocked it. Monet himself suggested that if it wasn’t for Durand-Ruel, his work and that of his contemporaries would not have flourished.
Filled with works by Renoir, Monet, Manet and Degas, as well as Rodin, Rousseau and Millet, the exhibition is incredibly impressive and it’s hard to imagine how and why contemporary critics rejected the work. Anyone attending the exhibition will surely find themselves feeling extremely grateful to this entrepreneurial art dealer.