Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde

September 14, 2006–January 7, 2007


The exhibition features individual rooms dedicated to Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso. Included are five of the paintings that Vollard displayed in his groundbreaking Cézanne exhibition of November 1895. In 1898 the dealer hosted a small exhibition of Gauguin's Tahitian-period paintings—the centerpiece of that show, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) is a highlight of the exhibition. Another point of special interest consists of three paintings that Vollard seems to have presented as a triptych in his 1896–97 Van Gogh exhibition: Banks of the Seine with Pont de Clichy in the Spring (Dallas Museum of Art), Fishing in Spring, The Pont de Clichy (Asnières) (The Art Institute of Chicago), and Woman in a Garden (private collection). Vollard recalled that, early on, "even the boldest were unable to stomach [Van Gogh's] paintings."

Other galleries in the exhibition focus on groups of artists, such as the Nabis and Fauves. Vollard championed the artists known collectively as the Nabis by purchasing their works, commissioning their prints, and holding two major group exhibitions at his rue Laffitte gallery in 1897 and 1898. This exhibition features paintings by Nabi artists Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Ker-Xavier Roussel, and Édouard Vuillard, as well as their lithograph albums, livres d'artistes, and Bonnard's bronze table sculpture, Surtout de Table (The Terrasse Children) (The Art Institute of Chicago), which was the subject of a 1902 exhibition at Vollard's gallery.

The Fauve room includes works made by a selection of artists who exhibited together in Paris in the famous 1905 Salon d'Automne. On display are paintings from Matisse's first solo exhibition—held at Vollard's gallery in June 1904—and three of André Derain's paintings of the Thames River, which Vollard commissioned around 1906 after seeing Monet's paintings of the same subject. Also featured in this gallery are colorful plates and vases that the Fauves produced in conjunction with the master ceramicist André Metthey at Vollard's request.