Vollard As An Art Dealer
Vollard came to Paris in 1887 from a small French colony near Madagascar (Ile-de-la-Reunion). At the age of only 29 he set out to make his mark as an art dealer and opened a retrospective of the works of the painter Paul Cezanne who was essentially unknown at the time in Paris. The show included 150 works and although risky both financially and from a reputational standpoint, was a success and launched the careers of both artist and dealer. Vollard went on to become the leading dealer of his generation in positioning and presenting the contemporary art of his time.
Vollard was eccentric, cryptic and wily in his negotiations. He frequently could be found “dozing” in his gallery evidently to eavesdrop on his client’s conversations. He would often ignore his visitor’s requests to see certain works, and kept most of his inventory hidden away from view. As a prime dealer for the works of Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, as well as many of the Nabis artists, Vollard shaped much of the history of Modern art.
Vollard died in 1939, the victim of an automobile accident.