René Gimpel


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French art dealer. He inherited successful galleries in Paris and New York from his father and became one of the best-known international dealers of his day (his wife, Florence, was the sister of the British dealer Joseph Duveen—see Tate). Gimpel was mainly interested in French art of the 18th century, but he also bought and sold modern pictures and he was friendly with numerous artists, notably Marie Laurencin, who painted several portraits of members of his family. During the Second World War he worked for the Resistance and after being arrested by the Germans he died in a concentration camp. One of his fellow prisoners described his remarkable fortitude: ‘Knowing that he was soon to die, he continued, as if nothing was happening, to speak of life and to give to his companions, overwhelmed by exhaustion, despair and disgust, the example of the serenity of a man who, having nothing more to lose and having done what he can, is left with one duty, which is not to flinch and help others.’ Between the wars he kept a diary that gives a lively account of the art world in Europe and the USA. It was published as Journal d'un collectionneur in 1963 (English translation, Diary of an Art Dealer, with an introduction by Herbert Read, 1966). After the Second World War his sons Charles and Peter continued the family tradition with the firm of Gimpel Fils in London and New York. This firm has been especially notable for its international outlook and for promoting the careers of British sculptors including Armitage, Chadwick, and Dalwood.

Subjects: Art.

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