Ambroise Vollard

AMBROISE VOLLARD (1866 - 1939)


Intuitive and daring character, Ambroise Vollard is a mythical figure among the art dealers of his time. However, nothing seemed to predestine this young Reunionese passionate about art and literature to welcome, in his tiny Parisian gallery, the greatest works of art of his time. His flair enabled him to maintain privileged relations, sometimes friendly, sometimes stormy with Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin and even Renoir. With them and many others, "Fabulous Ambroise", as the New Yorker aptly called him in 1936, he built a pictorial empire that has since become legendary. MyStudiolo retraces the life of this fine strategist with an undeniable flair to identify artists still unknown in:

6 key dates 4 artworks 3 anecdotes 1 quote

1890 Coming to Paris for his law studies, under pressure from his father, a lawyer, Ambroise was more attracted to the graphic arts. When his father cut him off, he was hired in a small Parisian gallery before opening his in his modest apartment. He sells drawings and prints bought on the banks of the Seine. It was by buying back from Manet's widow a set of drawings and oil sketches by the painter that he truly launched his activity.

1894 He opens his gallery in the unmissable rue Laffitte, located near Drouot Auction House. The exhibition of his acquisitions aroused rave reviews and above all, allowed him to meet Renoir and Degas. He begins to sell their works. By focusing on the avant-garde, he patiently established his stable, revealed the work of Van Gogh and exhibited, the following year, the works of Cézanne. This retrospective is a revelation for artists and collectors: it affirms its nonconformism and lays the foundations for its success.

1897 He is the first art dealer to establish contracts in good standing with artists, guaranteeing them the regular purchase of their studio. At the same time focusing on engraving, he was interested in the group of the Nabis, namely Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Ker-Xavier Roussel. At that time, no merchant had such an impact on artistic creation because, beyond his role of art dealer, he played a real role of patron, funding certain research by several young artists such as Derain or Rouault in order to stimulate their creativity.

1901 His gallery becomes a center of gravity of the Parisian avant-garde. The works of Picasso, then an unknown 19-year-old, are exhibited for the first time. Three years later, he gave Matisse his first personal exhibition. With its exclusive contracts and its massive purchases of works from artists, Ambroise is building a huge collection at very advantageous prices. This strategy inevitably earned him conflicts but made him a formidable art dealer and a true patron.

1914 The outbreak of the First World War forced him to close his gallery. After the end of the conflict, he preferred to receive his clients in his apartment at 28, rue de Grammont. He therefore devotes a lot of time to the publishing of artists' books, less profitable, but which constitute the real passion of his life. It sponsors the production of numerous literary works, illustrated by his artists. He has also organized the publication of several editions of original prints, including sets of prints.

1939 Ambroise dies suddenly in a car accident while preparing to make a museum of his collection. Not having taken care to make a will, his priceless collection of several thousand works is dispersed. Today, some of his paintings can be found in the world's greatest museums or in private collections.