By the time of the famous 1874 exhibition, Durand-Ruel was supporting and promoting the work of Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Renoir, among others.
And while the artists might have winced at the comments of Louis Leroy, the wise art dealer would have been delighted.
He was a born impresario who understood, and leveraged, the power of the press: as Oscar Wilde would say a little while later, ‘There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.’
Again, Durand-Ruel’s instincts were right: if Leroy’s defamatory words had not been printed, there would have been no brand name on which to build Impressionism. Durand-Ruel was doing well.
But life at the cutting edge is never easy. While his Parisian gallery enjoyed great success, his London enterprise was struggling, leading eventually to closure in 1875.
That was a blow to the ambitious Durand-Ruel, but by providing the introduction to Monet and Pissarro his adventure in London would actually be the making of him, as it would, to a degree, of Monet. Monet spent much of his time in the UK’s capital city studying the work of the modern English landscape artists.
He already knew of John Constable’s paintings, as he did those of James McNeill Whistler, who was London-based.
But it is likely that it was the atmospheric paintings of another artist that really fired his imagination.
Although J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851) had died some years earlier, it was still possible to see several of his paintings in London and it is inconceivable that Monet would not have studied them in some depth.
And Turner, like Monet, was a painter fascinated by the effects of natural light, once being so moved by nature’s luminous magnificence that he reportedly said that ‘the sun is God’.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.