Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



This thesis examines the art sales and marketing of Impressionism in the late nineteenth century, focusing on the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. Throughout the nineteenth century in Paris, the Académie des Beaux-Arts wrote the history of art by supporting certain artists who followed its ideas of what art should look like. The artists that the Academy chose to support had lucrative careers; they were offered commissions from both the church and state to paint grand historical pictures. Throughout the nineteenth century and until World War II, Paris was the artistic center of the world, and the birthplace of many avant-garde groups. Forward-thinking artists gathered together in the city to discuss their ideas about the development of contemporary art. The first of these modern movements comprised a small group of artists who in the 1860s abandoned their traditional Academic training to be allowed the freedom to paint in their own chosen style. These artists defined themselves in opposition to the Academy, which had complete control over artists' careers at the time, and in so doing were forced to find their own ways to make a living. The Impressionists' independent spirit created a need for dealers free of the Salon's constraints who would institute a new outlet for the display of works of art. Paul Durand-Ruel supported these artists by paying monthly stipends in advance for work produced to allow them to continue creating work. He created an intimate gallery setting which showed the individual work and artist more than the Salon setting, in order to cater to a new audience. He did not rely on the Salon for authorization, as dealers had done before him, and this decision has influenced the way private dealers and artists function to the present day. This thesis traces the Durand-Ruel Gallery from Paris to New York, and along with it the introduction of Impressionism to both French and American audiences.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mark J. Zucker