MIDLANDS Forum in Howick will be playing host to Caroline Durand-Ruel Godfroy, grand-daughter of the man who supported the French Impressionist painters, including Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Renoir, at a time when they were not being given their due.
Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922), was the son of an art dealer, and the first art dealer to practice innovative and original sales methods to promote the artists he supported.
At first, he was first interested in the painters of the 1830 school, also known as the Barbizon school, but he became best known for his dealings with the impressionists he supported from 1871.
Durand-Ruel said in 1885: “I come to my great crime, the one that overshadows all the others. For a long time I have been purchasing and praising to the sky works by some highly original and highly knowledgeable painters, several of whom are geniuses, and I intend to have art lovers accept them.”
Durand-Ruel fought with tenacity and enthusiasm for more than 20 years to raise awareness on the impressionist movement and painters, not only in Europe but also in the United States, while building a fabulous collection of their works.
Between 1891 and 1922, he purchased around 12,000 pictures, including more than 1,000 Monets, approximately 1,500 Renoirs, more than 400 by Degas and as many Sisleys and Boudins, about 800 Pissarros, close to 200 Manets and nearly 400 Mary Cassatts.
On Tuesday, November 3, the Midlands Forum will get to hear more about him when his grand-daughter, Caroline Durand-Ruel Godfroy, who lives in France, speaks to members and guests.
She worked with her father, Charles Durand-Ruel, at the family gallery. When her father died, she focused the gallery’s activities on showcasing its archives, essential for preserving the history of impressionism.
From 1985 to 2005, she was in contact with numerous institutions, art galleries, experts from around the world and authors of catalogues, helping them establishing the history of paintings through the gallery’s archives of paintings that transited by the Durand-Ruel Gallery.
Since 1993, she has written essays for international exhibitions, including Sisley at the Musée d’Orsay, The Havemeyer’s Collection also at the Musée d’Orsay, Theo van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Renoir at the Seoul Museum and Monet at the Gianadda Foundation.
She also edited the correspondence of Edgar Degas kept in the Durand-Ruel Gallery’s archives, as well as the correspondence between Paul Durand-Ruel and Renoir.
In addition, she is working on the catalogue critique of the work of post-impressionist painter Maxime Maufra, as well as a very detailed study on the works of impressionist painter Alfred Sisley that transited at the Durand-Ruel Gallery, which represents one third of the production of this artist.
Since 1993, she has been giving conferences on Paul Durand-Ruel around the world to expose her great grandfather’s tireless action for the impressionism painters.
Durand-Ruel Godfroy – who is a member of the Society of French History of Art – will be in South Africa for 10 days to stay with her daughter and son-in-law, Bjorn. The meeting starts at 10 am but interested folk are asked to get to Howick High School by 9.30 am.