“I posed a number of times”. Ambroise Vollard began a short chapter of his Memories of a Picture Dealer (1937) entitled "My Portraits" with this simple sentence, going on to relate a few colourful anecdotes about his experiences sitting for various painters.

Cézanne was the first of these, in 1899, arranging countless sittings at which silence was golden and Vollard, balanced on a stool, had to remain as motionless as an "apple" on a pedestal table. With Renoir, the atmosphere was more relaxed, and he was allowed to talk and even move. Bonnard, who was aware of his model’s habit of falling asleep, placed a small cat on his lap to keep him awake.

Other artists from the gallery on Rue Laffitte would also engage in this exercise, including Louis Valtat, Pablo Picasso, Émile Bernard, Jean-Louis Forain, Raoul Dufy and Georges Rouault. Some of these portraits amount to artistic manifestos, such as those painted by Cézanne (Paris, Petit Palais) and by Picasso (Moscow, Pushkin Museum), the latter providing a striking demonstration of the influence of the Master of Aix on the birth of Cubism.

Vollard was conscious of working for posterity by associating his effigy with the names he was helping to make known. This is confirmed by his generosity towards the Petit Palais, which received a number of his paintings, sculptures, ceramics, books, drawings and prints.

City of Paris municipal collection's website

City of Paris municipal collection's website

The collections portal can be used to search the collections of Paris’s 14 municipal museums (approximately 336,000 works, including 43,000 belonging to the Petit Palais).

It is also possible to download around 12,000 images of the museum’s works free of charge.

Access the Museums of the City of Paris collections portal
Autre base documentaire

Extern databases

Discover a selection of databases online presenting works from the Petit Palais or documents concerning the history of the museum.