Portrait of Victor Chocquet
Chocquet, Victor (1821-91) An official in the Customs Service who had private means, Chocquet was a born collector. He started off by accumulating bric-à-brac, and then moved on to paintings and drawings, showing an early interest in the works of Delacroix. In 1875 he attended the Impressionist sale at the Hôtel Drouot and, though he did not buy anything, he was deeply impressed by the works of Renoir, seeing an affinity between his style and that of Delacroix; he immediately commissioned him to paint portraits of himself and his wife (Victor Chocquet, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, and Madame Chocquet, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart). They got on famously together, and Renoir gradually introduced him to the work of his friends, taking him first to the shop of Père Tanguy to show him the works of Cézanne. Chocquet commissioned a portrait from him, and Cézanne actually produced two, one analogous to that of Renoir (1876-77; Collection of Lord Rothschild, London), the other showing him in slippered ease, seated in an armchair (c. 1877, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Ohio). Henceforth, Chocquet became an Impressionist addict, intent on proselytizing as well as buying. When he attended their exhibitions, Duret recounted, `People amused themselves by teasing him on his favorite subject. He was always ready for them, invariably finding the right words as far as his friends were concerned. He was above all else indefatigable on the subject of Cézanne, whom he counted as one of the greatest of painters. Many visitors were amused by this zeal, which they saw as a mild form of insanity.' Chocquet's already large collection was further increased as he became richer and installed himself in a large house in the rue Monsigny. After his death, his collection was sold at the Hôtel Drouot, and included 32 works by Cézanne, 11 by Renoir, 11 by Monet and one each by Pissarro and Sisley, as well as works by Delacroix, Corot, Courbet and Daumier.
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