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This Parisian art gallery was founded in 1846 by Francis Petit. Until 1880 the gallery only sold paintings, but after that year graphic works were also made available. Georges Petit took over the gallery in 1877 when his father died, and he became the most important and active rival of the dealer Durand-Ruel. As owner of a spacious and luxurious gallery at 8, rue de Sèze in the heart of Paris (between the Madeleine and the Opéra), he evinced an interest in the Impressionists at the end of their "lean years," once their works began to find a market. Thus he invited them to his yearly "Expositions Internationale," organized a huge Monet-Rodin retrospective in 1889, and eventually managed to detach Alfred Sisley from Durand-Ruel. At the same time Petit also dealt in Salon painters and handled the works of many successful and fashionable artists of the period, rivaling another Parisian dealer, Boussod & Valadon. He enjoyed the reputation of being a "formidable salesman," and most important Paris auctions (such as those of the Chocquet collection in 1899 and later of the Degas estate) were held on his premises because the Hôtel Drouot accomodations were insufficient. This fact only increased his rivalry with Durand-Ruel, as Petit did not care to have his competitor officiate as "expert" at public sales held in his gallery.
Georges Petit died in 1920, and the Gallery was acquired by Etienne Bignou, and Gaston and Josse Bernheim-Jeune. The Gallery was directed by George Keller from 1929 until 1933, when it closed and its assets sold at auction. A collection of letters received by Georges Petit or his associates, dating from 1855 to 1903, is in the Special Collections of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.