Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


Théodore Duret

Birthname: Jules-Emmanuel-Théodore Duret
Nationality: French
Date of birth: 19 January 1838
Place of birth: Saintes, Charentes
Date of death: 16 January 1927
Place of death: Paris
Category: collector, art critic


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 y101 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 y252, 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 y101 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 Green and Grey. The Oyster Smacks – Evening y070, Nocturne: Grey and Silver y156, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Gardens y166, Nocturne: Trafalgar Square - Snow y173 and possibly Alice Butt (1) y437. 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.

MacDonald, Margaret F., and Joy Newton, 'Correspondence Duret-Whistler', Gazette des beaux-arts, November 1987, pp. 150-64 .

Dictionary of Art Historians.