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Gil Romero - Art Dealer

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Gil Romero - July 5th, 1899 – March 17th, 1991.

A French art dealer associated, to a minor degree, with the impressionists.  He spent most of his life devoted to dealing in the drawings, watercolours and prints of the post-impressionist modern artists, from Pablo Picasso to Raoul Dufy.

EARLY LIFE AND IMPRESSIONISM[edit]

Gil Romero was born in Bayonne, France.  Gil’s father was an assistant to a Bordeaux wine merchant in the early years of Gil’s life.  They later moved to land near Briscous, east of Bayonne, where Gil was born.

After finishing school, Gil worked on the family property then moving to Paris at age 21.  He was given work in an art supplies shop frequented by major impressionist artists.  In 1923, he took a position with the famous Durand-Ruel Gallery and fell in love with art dealing.  At Durand-Ruel he gained exposure to and knowledge of the works of the Impressionists.

Although he never met Paul Durand-Ruel, who had died in 1922, the family allowed him to buy a small portrait of their father as they didn’t know who painted it.  (Illustrated).  Gil left Durand-Ruel in 1927 to deal in artwork on his own behalf.

Paul Durand-Ruel in his office - Artist unknown

POST-IMPRESSIONIST MODERNS[edit]

Gil scoured Paris for around five years, dealing in all types of work.  He was buying from markets and the Hotel Drouot Auctions, where he had much contact with minor dealers and Runners to the trade.  By 1933 he was able to buy an apartment in Montparnasse, from which address he traded for the rest of his working life.

From that point on he focussed on dealing in the drawings, watercolours, prints and print multiples of the Moderns, from Picasso to Raoul Dufy.  His favourite dealer was Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, who was a primo dealer of the moderns. His favourite artist was Salvador Dali, of whose work he had a direct line.

Dali and his wife, Gala, had a most extravagant lifestyle that always needed financial bolstering between major exhibitions.  Gala took control of this by selling drawings, prints and watercolours to all and sundry.  Gala was fond of Gil and thus Gil was always able to obtain Dali’s work.

In Paris, drawings, prints and multiples were mainly kept in folios and ‘plan’ drawers, and not framed until sold. Major collectors also held them like this, often to maintain pristine condition.  By the end of the second world war, Gil only bought popular stock that he was selling most of, as so much folio stock was owned, not on consignment.

From 1966 onwards, he no longer bought stock, but sold it.  It took over 20 years for him to finally retire in Nice.

AFTERMATH[edit]

Nearly thirty years after his death, Gil Romero’s collection and stock, sold by him from 1933 to 1988, is now starting to be sold again around the world.  An important Man Ray drawing from Gil’s collection, one of only three versions of "La Femme Portative” was sold at 1.[1]Swann Auction Galleries in New York on September 26th, 2016 (Sale 2423 lot 38), with full provenance to Gil Romero.

References[edit]

  1. "Full Details for Lot 38". catalogue.swanngalleries.com. Retrieved 2018-08-10.

The information above comes from a memoir by Mr Kurt Barry of Barry’s Gallery, Surfers Paradise, Australia, a keen collector of Picasso drawings and ceramics, and many purchased from Gil in the 70’s and early 80’s.

Details of results in the above aftermath paragraph have been added since Mr Barry’s passing.


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