The Role of the Emerging Art Market in the Spread of Impressionism in Europe

Ferenc Toth


At the time of the birth of Impressionism, the official Salon exhibitions provided the sole opportunity to make a reputation, to attract the attention of critics and purchasers. The efforts of the Impressionists, however, were always met with refusal, thus forcing them to oreganize independent exhibitions. These were a new forum providing regular appearance and sale facilities. For instance, between 1874 and 1886, eight exhibitions generated considerable interest from visitors and the press. Collaterally with the impressionist movement emerged a new type of art dealers who established personal, contracted contacts with the artists and this way taking an active role in determining the new market conditions. The most prominent of these was Paul Durand-Ruel, who along with other art dealers, became the principal animators of the art impressionists’ careers. They were also credited for dispersing impressionist paintings in Europe and America at the turn of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century. But Ruel and other art dealers suggested subjects to the artists, and tried to lead them towards certain stylistic modifications to promote better reception and marketability. The question therefore remains: How and to what extent did this interlace with the art market influence the stylistic, methodical, and
formalistic changes that befell the history of Impressionist painting?


art impressionism, art market, European art, art tracking

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ISSN: 2012-0788