In Support of the Barbizon Rebels: Vose Galleries in the 1870s

Jean-Francois-Millet (1814-1875)
Shepherdess Leaning on her Staff
Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Seth Vose almost dropped the paints and brushes he had been wrapping. His customer had come bursting out of the picture gallery at the back of the store shouting, "Those paintings in there, where did you get them?"

No doubt the man was American, but he was flinging his arms about like some Frenchman. He liked the pictures, though, so Seth's deep voice took on a friendly note when he answered, "They are by artists who are working in a little village called Barbizon, not far from Paris, I think they are quite beautiful."

"I know, I know," the stranger sputtered. "I've lived there and painted beside Corot, Daubigny, Rousseau, all of them. Millet was my teacher." And before Seth could back away, the visitor had seized him by the shoulders and kissed him on both cheeks." Thus began Seth's relationship with William Morris Hunt.*

William Morris Hunt (1824-1879)

Seth Vose and William Morris Hunt were among the first Americans to recognize the brilliance of the Barbizon painters. Hunt's personal charm and society marriage afforded him a great influence amongst Boston collectors, which he used to convince art patrons such as Martin Brimmer (a founder of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) to purchase works by the Barbizon School. Although early attempts to promote art of the Barbizons in America were often disheartening, Seth was never discouraged from pursuing this endeavor. He was a dedicated believer in the artists, and championed their cause for nearly thirty years before firmly establishing himself as the group's primary dealer in the United States.

*Yankee Magazine "The Old Family Business" by Jack Post, 1973.

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