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Reid & Lefèvre, Ltd, Alex
British, est. 1926
Lefevre Gallery
Biography
The art firm of Messrs. Alex Reid and Lefèvre was the result of a partnership between the London establishment of Messrs. L.H. Lefèvre and Son and the Glasgow gallery begun by Alex Reid. The Lefèvre Gallery, as it was colloquially known, was formed in 1871 by Léon Lefèvre (1844-1915) and his partner, F.J. Pilgeram. Léon had inherited a printselling business from his uncle, the London art dealer Ernest Gambart. The Lefèvre Gallery initially dealt mainly in engravings and prints by mostly contemporary French and British artists. Soon enough, however, Léon Lefèvre developed a profitable side line in Dutch paintings, and paintings of the Barbizon school. Early in the twentieth century The Lefèvre Gallery began to offer the works of later 19th century painters such as Fantin-Latour, Boudin, Lépine and Pissarro. The new direction was possibly due to the influence of Léon's son, Ernest-Albert Lefèvre (1869-1932), who had begun to work along side his father, and inherited the business at the latter's death in 1915. Meanwhile, Alex Reid (b. 1854) of Glasgow left his native city following the liquidation of his father's frame-making firm, which had been gutted by fire in 1882. Alex, who aspired to learn the art dealing trade, moved to Paris in 1886, where he found a job with the Paris branch of the firm of Boussod and Valadon, managed by Theo van Gogh. For a time, at Theo's suggestion, Alex shared an apartment on the Place d'Anvers with Vincent van Gogh, who brought Alex into contact with many young artists. During this period Vincent painted two portraits of the young dealer, one of which he gave as a gift to Alex. In early 1888 Vincent left Paris for Arles, and Alex shortly thereafter returned to Glasgow, bringing a stock of Barbizon and other French paintings with him. In March 1889 he opened his first small gallery, the Sociéte des Beaux-Arts on West George Street. In 1894 the firm was moved to larger premises on St. Vincent Street, but in 1904 Alex moved the gallery back to West George Street, in larger quarters, where it remained until 1932, shortly after Alex's death. The partnership between Lefèvre and Reid, formed on 26 April 1926, was engineered to a certain degree when the Parisian art dealer Etienne Bignou, who supplied French paintings to both enterprises, first suggested that the two firms should collaborate on exhibition sales to be shown in both London and Glasgow. The first of these collaborations was in 1923, an exhibition of "Masterpieces of French Art of the Nineteenth Century," and continued until 1925. Both parties recognized their mutual profitable arrangement, and spurred by Etienne Bignou. decided to go into partnership. Bignou became one of the new firm's directors, until 1927, with Ernest Lefèvre, A.J. McNeill Reid (Alex's son, b. 1893), and Duncan MacDonald (d. 1949). Generally speaking, the policy of the new gallery was to show major French artists from 1830 to 1930, as well as a certain amount of British art. Messrs. Alex Reid and Lefèvre prospered during the years between 1926 and 1939. Upon the declaration of war the gallery virtually closed down, opening its doors only two days a week, until 1944 when it reopened. Gradually the pre-war team was replaced by a younger, unaffiliated management. At the time of its fiftieth anniversary, neither a Lefèvre or a Reid was a director or shareholder of the company, which is now generally referred to by the anglicized version of its name, The Lefevre Gallery.
Bibliography
1967
Pickvance, Ronald. A Man of Influence: Alex Reid 1854-1928. Exh. cat. Edinburgh, 1967.
1968
Pickvance, Ronald. "A Man of Influence: Alex Reid 1854-1928," Scottish Art Review II (1968): 5-9.
1976
Cooper, Douglas, introduction. Alex Reid & Lefevre 1926-1976. London, 1976
2002
Fowles, Frances in Millet to Matisse: Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century French Painting from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow. Exh. cat, 2002: 205-6
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