Though the darling of art collectors today, the Impressionists were hardly an immediate success in their own time. Rebuffed and discouraged, they were reduced to organizing their own exhibitions in place of that of the official Salon. Dubbed the Salon de Refuse', these shows ranged from small scandals to major disasters. Scorned by officialdom and the public, viewers laughed and ridiculed their work...and most pointedly, did NOT buy.
However over time, a few enlightened collectors did step forward to purchase their work, and the true champion amongst these, was a Parisian gallery owner named Paul Durand-Ruel, who bought more Impressionist paintings than seemed sensible at the time. Unfortunately, he did not have any major success in selling them until two major exhibitions he held, not in Paris, but in the United States in 1886 and 1887. Durand-Ruel put it suscinctly: "The American public does not LAUGH. It BUYS!"