The Bernheim-Jeune story
Extract of the article dedicated to Bernheim-Jeune in the Larousse Encyclopedia:
ʺBernheim-Jeune (said Bernheim), art dealer’s family native of Besançon which can be traced from the late XVIIIth century at the head of a business of painting supplies (frames and colours for the artists)."
Succeeding Joseph Bernheim (1799 1859), his son Alexandre Bernheim (1839-1915) friend of Delacroix, Corot and Gustave Courbet, came to settle down in Paris in 1863, first at n°8 rue Lafitte (on the advice of his fellow countryman of Besançon, G. Courbet). This is were Alexandre Bernheim presentsthe impressionists in 1874. Transferred in 1906 to n°25 boulevard de la Madeleine and 15 rue Richepanse, the Bernheim gallery takes its real development under the supervision of Alexandre Bernheim’s sons, Josse Bernheim-Jeune (1870-1941) and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune (1870-1953). They organised (in particular) in 1901, the first Van Gogh exhibition, present Bonnard and Vuillard in 1906, Cézanne and Cross (1907), Seurat and Van Dongen (1908), Matisse (1910), Boundin, the ʺItalian Futuristsʺ (1912), Le Douanier Rousseau (1916), R.Dufy and Vlaminck (1921), Modigliani (1922), Utrillo (1923), Marquet (1925), Gauguin (1930), having settled down avenue Matignon (1925)ʺ.
Bernheim-Jeune indeed, was the first gallery to settle down avenue Matignon (at the corner of avenue Matignon and rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré). Its new premises were inaugurated by Gaston Doumergue, President of the French Republic, for the opening of the exhibition: ʺMasterpieces of the XIXth and XXth centuriesʺ.
MM. Bernheim-Jeune organized several hundreds of exhibitions, the most important of which were : in 1926, Raoul Dufy, Cézanne, The drawings of Seurat; in 1927 Utrillo, Bonnard; in 1928, Vlaminck, Jacques Villon, Bonnard; in 1929, Gromaire, Berthe Morisot, Matisse, Van Gogh, Boudin, Vlaminck; in 1933, Marquet and Vlamminck; in 1934, "A Hundred years of French portraits" (1800-1900); in 1935, Jongkind and the ʺItalian Futuristsʺ; in 1936, ʺMy doctor the wineʺ (twenty Raoul Dufy’s watercolors), "A Hundred years of theater, Music hall and circus"; in 1937, Retrospective of H.E. Cross, Gericault, Marquet; in 1938, Vuillard, forty Cézanne’s watercolors, Renoir Portrait painter, Utrillo; in 1939, Tribute to Cézanne; in 1946, Bonnard; in 1948, "the Woman, the Relaxed rhythm of life"; in 1949, "Magicians of the paint"; in 1950, Marquet, Bonnard; in 1951, "Rhythms and colors"; in 1952, Constantin Guys, "Portraits painter; in 1953, A Hundred and fifty years of drawings", Vuillard; in 1954, Gros-Gericaut-Delacroix, "The nude through ages", Salvador Dali (jewels); in 1956, tribute to Bonnard, Cézanne’s watercolor; in 1958, Matisse; in 1959, Raoul Dufy; in 1960, Cézanne, watercolorist and painter; in 1962, "A Hundred years of portraits", "the Circus"; in 1963, Odilon Redon; in 1964, Landscapes of France; in 1966, "A Hundred of the watercolors"; in 1967, "Blow of hat to Bonnard", Julie’s Garland; in 1969, "Blow of hat to Vuillard"; in 1970, Matisse; in 1971, Cézanne; in 1972, Marquet; in 1973, Vuillard, etc.
Bernheim-Jeune was the 1st editor to publish books on impressionist and post-impressionist painters: Bonnard (1922), Cézanne (1914, first book published on this artist), Degas (1918), Gauguin, Lautrec, Manet, Matisse, Claude Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Utrillo, Van Dongen, Van Gogh, Vlaminck. Bernheim-Jeune also published the fine arts review le ʺBulletin de la Vie Artistiqueʺ bimonthly, from 1919 to 1926. Between 1921 and 1934, Jacques Villon created for Bernheim-Jeune about 45 aquatints interpretation of the impressionists and contemporary artists : Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Bonnard, Braque, R. Dufy, Van Dongen, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Signac, Vlaminck, Utrillo, etc. The ambition of MM. Bernheim-Jeune was the promotion of these artists to a wider public.
Since its inception to the present day, Bernheim-Jeune has always been led by members of the same family.
MM. Bernheim-Jeune had privileged and friendly relationships with Claude Monet (from 1900 to his death), with Rodin, with PA. Renoir (from 1895 to his death) as evidenced by the five portraits of the Bernheim-Jeune family painted by the artist, with Vuillard (who made more than 10 portraits of the family), and with their brother-in-law Felix Valloton.
With their collaborator, Felix Fénéon, Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune brought two new schools to light - Neo-impressionism or Pointillism (Seurat, Signac, Cross) and the Nabis (Maurice Denis, Bonnard, Vuillard, K.X. Roussel and Sérusier).
Many artists were under contracts with MM. Bernheim-Jeune : P. Bonnard (1904-1940), Chagall (1928), H.E. Cross (1906-1910), Raoul Dufy (1920-1929), Edouard Goerg (1926-1927), Grommaire (1930-1931), A. Maillol (1937), A. Marquet (1916-1931), Henri Matisse (1909-1926), J. Pascin (1928-1930), P. Signac (1907-1930), Maurice Utrillo (1927-1929), Kees Van Dongen (1909-1916), Maurice de Vlaminck (1920-1932).
Paul CEZANNE (1839-1906)
Cézanne, unlike Monet, Degas, or Renoir, was ignored by his contemporaries. But Josse and Gaston Bernheim visited him and collected his works. Bernheim-Jeune exposed the master, participated in his success. In 1914, Bernheim-Jeune Edition publishes the first book ever published on Cézanne.
Claude MONET (1840-1926)
Already known as a master of Impressionism. Claude Monet lived in Giverny, on the way to Bernheim’s weekend estate at Villers-sur-Mer. Each time they drove past they stopped for lunch at Monet’s home to admire his paintings or show a masterpiece of their own collection, like a Courbet’s nude that impressed and moved the master of the nympheas.
On their way back from the seaside, they brought regularly to Claude Monet the fresh shrimps he likes so much.
In 1908, Bernheim-Jeune acquired twenty-eight views of Venice. In 1912, has been organized the Claude Monet’s exhibition "Venice", positively welcomed by the criticism.
Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919)
August Renoir was a frequent visitor of the Bernheim-Jeune gallery and a close friend of the family. Many of his paintings decorate the residence of Josse and Gaston Bernheim (see Renoir, Catalogue raisonné of paintings, pastels, drawings and watercolours by Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville, Volume I pages 3, 11 and 15).
In September 1901, Pierre-Auguste Renoir stayed several weeks in Fontainebleau, in the detached house of Bellune, to paint Mrs Josse Bernheim-Dauberville's portrait and that of Mrs Gaston Bernheim de Villers.
Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)
Friends of Rodin, Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune expose and buy his works in his lifetime. They publish in 1915 a book on the genius of the sculpture.
Pierre BONNARD (1867-1947)
Pierre Bonnard is a lifelong companion of the Bernheim-Jeune gallery.
In 1947, Bernheim-Jeune organizes in New York Pierre Bonnard’s last show shortly before his death. At the request of the artist, Bernheim-Jeune published and listed the works of the painter in a catalogue raisonné in 4 volumes: Bonnard, Catalogue raisonné of the painted work.
Henri MATISSE (1869-1954)
Henri Matisse signed five contracts with M.M. Bernheim-Jeune (from 1909 till 1926), and was also an intimate friend of the family.
Bernheim-Jeune editions notably published "Henri Matisse chez Berheim-Jeune" by Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville (2 volumes) in 1995.