Review: The Impressionists and The Man Who Made Them
The Impressionists and the Man Who Made Them is a documentary from director Phil Grabsky, based around a touring exhibition of Impressionist works connected with the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel that appeared in Paris, London and Philadelphia.
The documentary uses interviews with curators, art historians and Durand-Ruel’s family, as well as a running narration by Durand-Ruel himself (voiced by Robert Lindsey), to tell the story of the art dealer’s involvement with the Impressionists – and how his support helped them survive and eventually become accepted by the public.
I found this documentary a fascinating introduction to this less well-known, but key character, in the development of the art dealer and the Impressionist movement. Paul Durand-Ruel believed in the art of painters like Manet and Monet and, despite their paintings being ridiculed at the time, helped them finically by buying literally hundreds of paintings from them – even though he was unable to sell many on and ended up heavily in debt.
The documentary also gives some interesting insights into how art was perceived and used at the time, such as the habit of the middle classes had of renting paintings their families could then copy.
I do think a little background knowledge on the Impressionists is useful if you want to get the most out of the documentary, and I found the beginning and ending montages went on a little long. Otherwise I thought the documentary was very well researched, the contributions by the interviewees interesting and the whole thing nicely shot and edited.
A gentle and fascinating documentary that highlights a possibly less well recognised hero of the art world and the Impressionist movement. A recommended must watch for those with an interest in art history and/or the Impressionists.
The Impressionists and the Man Who Made Them will be available on DVD on 1 September.