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The Impressionists – And The Man Who Made Them on DVD in September

12 July 2015

Shunned by France’s art establishment, a group of young artists decided to hold their own salon to showcase their work and vision for a new style of painting. The resultant, somewhat ramshackle show, held in the former studio of a Paris-based photographer was the first glimpse of a movement that would go from being reviled to big box-office – impressionism.

Bringing a 21st century perspective to the works of the likes of Manet, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Renoir and Pissarro is Exhibiton on Screen’s latest DVD, The Impressionists – And The Man Who Made Them.

Based on the enormously popular touring exhibition, a collaboration between the National Gallery, London, the Musée du Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay and Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Impressionists – And The Man Who Made Them, focuses on 19th Century Parisian art collector Paul Durand-Ruel. Without his indefatigable support and patronage, one of the most loved and recognisable movements in Western art – impressionism – could well have succumbed to the critic who snorted in response to Monet’s Impression: Sunrise: "Impression! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished" and another who derided: "Try to make Monsieur Pisarro understand that trees are not violet; that the sunrise is not the colour of fresh butter..."

The film follows Durand-Ruel’s relationships with the artists and his unwavering commitment to their oeuvre in a time of cultural reactionism amongst 19th century Paris’ establishment, the turbulent backdrop of the Franco-Prussian war and blows to his own happiness, such as the death of his wife.

Through all this, Durand-Ruel persisted in his desire to bring impressionism to a new audience and subsequently he funded an exhibition in America. The film charts his extraordinary story and the journey that would eventually bring worldwide respect and fame to a group of revolutionary and radical artists that he so believed in.

Alongside the opportunity to see some of The Impressionist’s most famous works in your own living room, the film offers diary extracts and insights from Durand-Ruel and the artists in their own words, with Durand-Ruel voiced by celebrated actor, Robert Lindsay.

The film also takes the viewer behind-the-scenes as the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris prepares for its most important show of the year, with the curators also sharing their knowledge and expertise with the camera, whilst also giving unique insights into how such major exhibitions are put together.

Some of the most important authorities on impressionism and its leading lights also feature, lending further insights into this artistic phenomenon. Respected critic Rachel Campbell-Johnson of The Times and Philip Hook, Director at Sotheby's and author of The Ultimate Trophy, have also contributed to Exhibition on Screen: The Impressionists – And The Man Who Made Them, along with personal insights from descendants of Paul Durand Ruel, including his great-grandson Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and great great-granddaughter Flavie Durand-Ruel.

Featured paintings include Eugene Delacroix's Interior of Dominican Covent in Madrid, Berthe Morisot's Hanging the Laundry out to Dry, Claude Monet's Poplars and Pleasure Boats, Camille Passarro's The Avenue, Sydenham, Renoir’s Dance at the Bougival and Entrance to the Village of Voisins and Alfred Sisley's L'Ile Saint-Denis.

“There's always a danger of thinking we know everything we need to know about the impressionists - but that is the very reason it's so exciting to take a fresh look at these revolutionary artists,” said the film’s award-winning director and producer, Phil Grabsky. He added: “I am thrilled to have made this film that, through the remarkable story of Paul Durand Ruel – the man who made the Impressionists what they are - we can bring an exciting, revealing and powerful new perspective to the world's favourite artists to an international audience.”

The Impressionists – And The Man Who Made Them will be released on UK DVD on 1st September 2015 by Exhibition on Screen at a yuet to be confirmed RRP.