Ambroise Vollard  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ambroise Vollard (born July 3 1866, Saint-Denis, La Réunion; died July 21 1939 in Versailles, France), is regarded as one of the most important dealers in French contemporary art at the beginning of the twentieth century. He is credited with providing exposure and emotional support to numerous notable and unknown artists, including Paul Cézanne, Maillol, Picasso, Rouault, Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. He is also well-known as an avid art collector and publisher.


Born and raised in a French colony, after his matura in La Réunion he went to study jurisprudence in France, for a while in Montpellier, then at the École de droit in Paris, where he received his degree in 1888.

Meanwhile Vollard himself converted into an "amateur-marchand", and in 1893, he established his own art gallery, Rue Laffitte, then the centre of the Parisian market for contemporary art. There Vollard mounted his first major exhibitions: Manet and others were followed by Gauguin and Van Gogh (4 – 30 June, 1895); for Gabriel Mourey, French correspondent of The Studio in Paris, this was simply a matter of "Scylla and Charybdis".

Much has been made of his physical appearance and countenance (grimly described as a "large, gruff, boorish fellow" with "downcast eyes..."); however, he was also a very shrewd businessman who made a fortune with the "buy low, sell high" mantra. His clients included Albert C. Barnes, Henry Osborne Havemeyer, Gertrude Stein and her brother, Leo Stein. Vollard would later write biographies on Cézanne, Degas, and Renoir.

Vollard was killed in July 1939, at the age of 73, on his way to Paris when his chauffer-driven car skidded off the road. Vollard died without direct heirs. Much of the art was left to extended family and close friends, although a significant number of works apparently were sold, dispersed, or disappeared during the war.


  • Rudolf Koella & Rudolf Velhagen (ed.): Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso und ihr Galerist Ambroise Vollard, Exh. Museum Langmatt, Baden (CH) & Musée Jenisch, Vevey (CH), 2006 ISBN 3-89904-203-4 (German version) / French version forthcoming; the essential contributions by Jonathan Pascoe Pratt, London

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ambroise Vollard" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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