Programme de Recherche International
Paris Île de France
Why collecting Impressionism? Charles Ephrussi (1849-1905) came from a wealthy Jewish family of bankers. He settled in Paris in 1871 and from that point on he devoted his life completely to the arts. He wrote for the renowned art journal the Gazette des beaux-arts and became its co-owner in 1885 and director from 1894. In 1878 he wrote for the first time about the Impressionists. Although he was still a bit hesitant about whether this new group of painters was serious enough, he had already started to collect their works. Ephrussi was not only involved as a collector but also organized exhibitions and played a key role in the development of the career of for example Renoir. At the same time, and like other collectors of impressionism, he never exclusively concentrated on this new painting movement. His eclectic taste made him buy many other art styles as well. By looking more closely into Charles Ephrussi’s collection and his taste for contemporary painting we try to understand better what his relation to this new movement was. What were his motivations for buying works of the impressionists and how does this relate to other collectors in the 1880s?