Inventing Impressionism

This event was held from 4 March 2015 to 31 May 2015

4 March – 31 May 2015

Sainsbury Wing Exhibition

10am – 6pm

10am – 9pm

Saturday 23 May*

10am – 9pm

Saturday 30 May*

10am – 9pm

*Please note that only the exhibition and Sainsbury Wing shop will remain open late. The rest of the National Gallery premises will close at 6pm.

Admission charge (Members go free)

Ticket prices and information (including how to book by phone)

Same Day sales only available from the Ticket Desk in the Sainsbury Wing Foyer

“Without him,” said Monet “we wouldn’t have survived.”

So universally popular are the Impressionists today, it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t. But in the early 1870s they struggled to be accepted. Shunned by the art establishment, they were even lambasted as ‘lunatics’ by one critic.

One man, however, recognised their worth from the beginning. Paul Durand-Ruel, an entrepreneurial art dealer from Paris, discovered this group of young artists – including Monet, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro and Sisley – and gambled.

Realising the fashionable potential of their derided ‘impressions’ of urban and suburban life, Durand-Ruel dedicated the rest of his life to building an audience for their work – creating the modern art market in the process.

Such was his perseverance, Durand-Ruel nearly bankrupted himself twice, before successfully globalising his operation with outposts in London, Brussels and New York, and establishing the one-man show as the international norm for exhibitions.

The ‘Impressionists’ – a term first used derogatively by critics – was to become the household name that stands today.

‘Inventing Impressionism’ features 85 masterpieces from the movement, all but one having passed through Durand-Ruel’s hands, including three of Renoir’s famous ‘Dances’ and five from Monet’s ‘Poplars’ series.

Supported by


Philippe and Stephanie Camu

The NDL Foundation

The Jacaranda Trust

And several anonymous donors

Exhibition organised by the National Gallery, London, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux - Grand Palais in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay

Image above: Detail from Monet, 'Poplars in the Sun', 1891, The National Museum of Western Art, Matsukata Collection. Tokyo © The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo