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Impressionist Dealers and Collectors

Cézanne and Renoir

The Impressionists were patronised by self-made bourgeois collectors like Victor Chocquet, a retired customs official. Chocquet was the most important early collector of Cézanne to whose work he was introduced by Renoir in 1875. Artists also bought from one another. Camille Pissarro was the first owner of Cézanne's L' Etang des Soeurs, Osny (c.1875) in the Courtauld collection. The market for Impressionist painting was also kept bouyant through the support of critics and writers, such as Théodure Duret and Émile Zola.

Another dealer of importance to the Impressionists was Ambroise Vollard. Renoir had met Vollard around 1895. Then still a relatively young man, Vollard began to buy from Renoir and after 1900 became one of the principal dealers of his work. Vollard commissioned portaits of himself from many of the artists whose work he bought including Cézanne and Pierre Bonnard. Renoir's portait of the dealer, painted in 1908, portrays him in the mode of archetypal connoisseur, examining one of his art objects. The plaster statuette held by Vollard is the Crouching Woman made in 1900 by Aristide Maillol, a sculptor who had made a portrait bust of Renoir around this time. The broad treatment and monumental forms used in Renoir's portrait of Vollard are evidence of the artist's interest in 18th-century French Rococo painters, such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard and François Boucher, who influenced the artist from the 1890s onwards. The portrait of Vollard was included in an exhibition of Renoir's portraits organised in Paris by Durand-Ruel in 1912.

Ambroise Vollard is chiefly remembered for his patronage of Paul Cézanne. The dealer organised the first extensive exhibitions of Cézanne's work from 1895 onwards and was later to write important books on both Renoir and Cézanne. Vollard was the first owner of Cézanne's Man with a Pipe (c.1892-5) in the Courtauld collection.

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