The enlightened modern man and woman would want to acquire art that reflected their exciting new world, not stodgy brown paintings full of ancient religious iconography.
Leisure was the big new thing, free time to hang out and enjoy oneself the great gift that new technology had given.
And that, he predicted, was what the punters would buy: images of people similar to themselves enjoying the pleasures of city life: strolling arm-in-arm in the park, boating on the lake, swimming in the river or drinking in a café.
Durand-Ruel even went so far as to encourage the young artists to paint smaller pictures that could fit on the walls of less wealthy collectors who had more modest apartments.
It was a plan based on a commitment to the type of work his protégés were making, aligned to a hunch that tastes were changing as quickly as the world in which they were all living.
His instinct was to be proved correct on both fronts, his speculative but successful business plan going on to play a significant part in breaking the Academy’s iron grip on the careers of Paris-based artists.
At last the talented but rejected or unproven had a commercial alternative.
More, Durand-Ruel gave them the financial independence to pursue their creative goals without interference or financial worries.
His actions led directly to the emergence and relatively quick development of modern art and the establishment of a commercial blueprint, based around knowledgeable, entrepreneurial art dealers, that thrives to this day.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.