A Brief History of the Project
The idea for this catalogue raisonné took shape in the 1980s when Howard Rehs, then a young art historian and gallerist, noticed the work of Julien Dupré. In searching for more information about the artist for the family’s gallery, he discovered that very few resources were available. Over the next ten years, Rehs watched the prices for Dupré’s paintings rise consistently, and by the 1990s, he undertook his own research. When Knoedler Gallery agreed to open its archives for him, he had access to all of their records, including thousands of auction catalogues and sales ledgers as well as old photographs from the time when Dupré’s work was frequently in their inventory. This provided a solid foundation for what would become the catalogue raisonné.
Rehs continued to assemble a variety of materials and sources in the opening years of the twenty-first century, purchasing Dupré’s account book and several sketchbooks that added to the growing collection of primary materials related to the artist. And he continued to purchase Dupré’s work. Eventually, he hired art historical researchers to identify material about the artist in French archives and museums.
By 2015, when I joined the project, Dupré’s place in the art historical canon had become more visible. Although his work appeared periodically in exhibitions between his death in 1910 and the present, there is a gap of forty-eight years between 1921, when his work was included in a loan exhibition at the Algonquin Club in Boston, and 1969 when his paintings appeared in a traveling exhibition titled The Frozen Fountain: Nineteenth Century Academic Paintings from the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum at the Newport Harbor Museum in Balboa, California. After the 1969 exhibition, his work began to appear more often; of particular note are the exhibitions in St. Louis at both the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum of Art at Washington University and the St. Louis Museum of Art. Both of these institutions have significant holdings of Dupré paintings. Also of note was Dupré’s inclusion in the ground-breaking exhibition, The Realist Tradition, at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1980-81. As art historical scholarship has re-examined—and redefined—the nature of both Realism and Naturalism since the 1960s, Dupré has gradually emerged as a significant painter in the late nineteenth century and his work has been shown almost annually in exhibitions across the United States as well as in Prague, Tokyo and Taipei.
Sources and methods
The research which forms the foundation of this catalogue raisonné is based largely on primary sources. The archives of the Musée d’Orsay, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and the Archives nationales were invaluable sources for materials on Dupré’s career as well as documentation of his personal life. Equally important is the contribution of Julien Dupré’s descendent, Jérémie Jouan, who has been not only an abundant source of material about the Dupré-Laugée family, but a generous colleague whose willingness to share information has added a welcome dimension to our understanding of Dupré and his family.
Many people have contributed to the success of this project. At every stage of the research, librarians and archivists have offered crucial guidance and recommendations for further investigation. The archivists at the Musée d’Orsay and Bibliotheque nationale de France-Richelieu deserve special thanks for their unflagging assistance. In France, the curators at museums in Carcassone, Cognac, Dunkerque, Grenoble, LeMans, Lille, Narbonne, Reims and Rouen shared information on the Dupré paintings in their collections and often suggested additional local resources. In London, the reference staff at the Tate Britain Archives and the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum helped to fill in gaps in Dup’s connections with British art dealers. In Prague, I owe a debt of gratitude to Martina Parkánová at Veletržni Palác (Fair Trade Palace), who facilitated my access to Dupré’s painting In the Fields, which has been in the collection of the National Gallery Prague since 1895.
Special thanks are due to the researchers who identified primary materials early in the process of developing the catalogue, Fleur Levitz and Lynsi Spaulding in the US and Stéphanie Peyrissac in France. Janice Lurie, Head Librarian at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Heather Winter, Librarian/Archivist at the Milwaukee Art Museum Research Center, provided assistance in locating information about the art exhibitions at city and state industrial expositions. Finally, Dr. Gabriel P. Weisberg and Yvonne Weisberg not only shared their earlier research on Dupré but provided steadfast encouragement and critical feedback along the way.
This catalogue raisonné represents the work of many years and many people. It will undoubtedly continue to evolve as collectors and scholars make new contributions to the body of knowledge about the artist and his work. It is our hope that Julien Dupré’s oeuvre will now be understood in a more comprehensive context, reflecting both the artistic concerns of his time and the historical milieu of nineteenth-century France.
Janet Whitmore, Ph.D.
Howard L. Rehs, Rehs Galleries, Inc.