The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Théodore Duret, 1838-1927

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1838
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1927
Place of Death:


(Jules-Emmanuel-)Théodore Duret was a French art critic and connoisseur. His father was in the brandy business in Cognac.


Duret was one of those, along with Whistler, who frequented Mme de Soye's oriental shop on the rue de Rivoli from 1863 when it first opened. However, it was not until the end of 1880 that Duret was introduced to Whistler by Edouard Manet. Duret favourably reviewed Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) when it was exhibited at the Salon in May 1883. Whistler began a portrait of Duret in evening dress, Arrangement en couleur chair et noir: Portrait de Théodore Duret (YMSM 252), in this year. It was exhibited at the Salon in 1885 where it received mixed reviews. On 2 November 1891 Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) was bought by the Musée du Luxembourg for 4000 francs, largely due to the efforts of Stéphane Mallarmé, Roger Marx, Claude Monet and Duret.

As well as works by Corot, Courbet, Degas, Manet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and Cézanne, Duret owned a number of paintings by Whistler, including Trouville (YMSM 70), Nocturne: Grey and Silver (YMSM 156), Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Gardens (YMSM 166), Nocturne: Trafalgar Square - Snow (YMSM 173) and possibly Alice Butt (1) (YMSM 437). In 1904 he published a monograph on Whistler, having already written several articles of signficance in the 1880s which helped encourage French interest in Whistler.


Duret, Théodore, 'James Whistler', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 23, 1 April 1881, pp. 365-69; Duret, Théodore, 'Les Expositions de Londres: Dante Gabriel Rossetti', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 28, July 1883, pp. 49-58; Duret, Théodore, 'Expositions de la Royal Academy et de la Grosvenor Gallery', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 29, June 1884, pp. 531-36; Duret, Théodore, Critique d'Ávant-Garde, Paris, 1885; Duret, Théodore, 'Whistler et son Oeuvre', Lettres et les Arts, 3me année, vol. 1, 1888, pp. 215-26; Duret, Théodore, Histoire de J. McN. Whistler et son oeuvre, Paris, 1904.