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Souvenirs d’un marchand de tableaux

Ambroise Vollard

We are often adviced to pack for the Summer a thrilling novel peopled with colourful characters, and lots of action. Well, here we have it for you! The memoires of one of the most important art dealers of the XXth century, Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939). His appearance as we see it on the cover of the book in the portrait Renoir did of him – cufflinks, Napoléon III-style beard and a respectable bald spot –augur a boring inventory by an equally boring bourgeois. It is not at all the case. Vollard’s freedom of tone and his sense of humour are remarkable and he uses them both in recounting his personal life – his father choosing the homeliest English tutors in order not to awaken his libido – as well as his relations with the artists – from Félicien Rops opening the door of his workshop in the nude to Degas requesting, when invited to dinner, a meal without butter and women without perfume. Behind these anecdotes there are of course the links forged with the greatest artists (Cézanne, Renoir, le douanier Rousseau, Picasso) and collectors (Pellerin, Havemeyer), who serve as a backdrop to his memories. Appended to this new edition of the work from 1937, one can read an interesting note, that rings close to home: «Can one make the prices of paintings go up?».

• Souvenirs d’un marchand de tableaux, by Ambroise Vollard, Albin Michel, 2007, 432 p., ISBN : 978-2-226-15867-3, 20 €

Souvenirs d’un marchand de tableaux - Ambroise Vollard

Review published in the newsletter #55 - from 12 July 2007 to 5 September 2007

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