The catalogue raisonné project began in 1991 when Howard Rehs began researching the life and work of the 19th-century French Realist artist. At the time, information about the artist was scarce, but interest in Realist artists was growing among both collectors and art historians. Mr. Rehs’ early research was conducted in the archives of Knoedler Gallery, one of several dealers who represented the artist during his lifetime. Subsequently, the Frick Art Reference Library and the Getty Research Institute proved to be valuable resources for information about Dupré’s sales. In addition, Mr. Rehs was fortunate to acquire the artist’s account book and earliest sketchbook, which have provided crucial documentation of Dupré’s career.
During the project’s early years, Mr. Rehs received encouragement from Dr. Gabriel P. Weisberg and Yvonne Weisberg, who kindly shared their earlier research on the artist, and recommended several research assistants, including Fleur Levitz and Lynsi Spaulding in the U.S. and Stéphanie Peyrissac in France. Mr. Rehs also met Jérémie Jouan, a descendent of the artist who has generously shared his own research into Dupré’s extended family history. As the catalogue raisonné began to take shape, the Weisbergs again played a crucial role in introducing Mr. Rehs to art historian Janet Whitmore, Ph.D., who joined the project full time in 2015.
For the past seven years, Dr. Whitmore has added a great deal to the understanding of Dupré’s importance in the latter half of the 19th-century and is responsible for creating the comprehensive biography, chronology, exhibition list, and bibliography for the website. In describing her research for the catalogue raisonné, Dr. Whitmore notes, “My research into Dupré’s life uncovered numerous primary materials in French archives that became the foundation for a more complete biography. That information led me to an exploration of the artist’s role in the development of Naturalism in the 1880s, and ultimately to an understanding of his position within the social and political context of his time.”
Julien Dupré grew up in Paris, born into a family of jewelers and eventually apprenticed to a lacemaker, perhaps because of his drawing skills. With the advent of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the lacemaker’s shop was forced to close, and Dupré became a soldier. Shortly before his military service ended in 1872, he began preparing his application to the École des Beaux-Arts, where he entered the studio of Isidore Pils (1813-1875) and, after 1875, the studio of Henri Lehman (1814-1882). He made his debut at the Paris Salon on May 1, 1876, and continued to exhibit there until his passing in 1910. The French government purchased several of his Salon paintings for inclusion in national museums; these included Les lieurs de gerbes (1878), La Vache échappée (1885), La vache blanche (1890), and Vallée à Archelles (1894).
Dupré worked with many of the most influential art galleries in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States; these included Goupil, Knoedler, Boussod Valadon, Arthur Tooth, and Blakeslee Galleries. The first Dupré painting to enter an American museum was his 1886 Salon painting Le Ballon, donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1887 by a New York City banker, George Seney (the painting is now in the Reading Museum, Pennsylvania). Today works by the artist can be found in museums throughout the world.
The virtual catalogue raisonné is an ongoing project that can be accessed here. Anyone with additional information about Julien Dupré’s life or work should contact the gallery, either through the Dupré website or by calling Howard Rehs at (212) 355-5710.
— Luxenburg Magazine (@LuxenburgMag) October 13, 2021