White and White’s concept of the ‘dealer-critic system’
White and White’s concept of the ‘dealer-critic’ system can help us understand what happened with Impressionism. Primarily, this system sustained the Impressionists, in that the system provided the one-man show and independent group show to gain the public eye, through a dealer, the public could place the artist. Publicity, good or bad, from newspapers and journals, came with the new system. Fame substituted the acceptance of the Academy. Moreover, the dealer offered a ready-made clientele and was able to personally influence taste. This aided in direct sales between artist and patron. The system also introduced artist to the career, a steady income came with a contract with a dealer. The dealers, patrons, and critics supported the Impressionists not only financially, but also spiritually. Social support was given to these artists. The Impressionists and their supporters worked together as a cohesive group. The dealers and critics were a core, if not the core, element in the Impressionist movement. It was a system of acceptance, unlike that of the previous Academic system. Impressionism was successful because of the new system, as the system was focused on the total career of the artist and the cultivation of specialized markets in different types and schools of painting. These dealers, then, exploited the dominant tastes of the new markets and recognized the market trend in image and decorative art, which was Impressionism. This methodology clearly is responsible for the extreme success of the Impressionist movement.
The first collectors of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works were different than other 19th century collectors. Some collectors of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works were also artists like Zola and Degas. Unlike other 19th c. collectors who only collected work by deceased artists, the first collectors of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works were collecting works by living artists.