Alphonse Portier (1841–1902) was a Paris dealer who sold the work of artists such as Auguste Renoir, Johan Barthold Jongkind, Paul Cézanne and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec from his apartment at 54 Rue Lepic. In 1885, when Theo showed him a sketch of The Potato Eaters, he was one of the first to respond positively to Vincent’s work. From then on, Vincent valued Portier’s opinion highly and regularly sent him work. Yet Theo considered it unlikely that Portier would help Vincent to make many sales. Theo had written to Vincent in June 1885:
“he is perhaps more of an enthusiast than a salesman” Read the complete letter
But Vincent had faith in Portier. He replied to Theo to say
“That he must therefore not lose heart too soon, because you and I combined won’t take it amiss of him should it not succeed for a longer or shorter time, but that he must just go on showing. And that I’ll go on sending.” Read the complete letter
By the autumn of 1885, though, Portier had lost enthusiasm, leaving Vincent frustrated. After he came to live in Paris in 1886, Vincent probably saw and visited the dealer often, since they lived in the same building. He saw works at Portier’s including Paul Cézanne’s The Harvest, one of the few landscapes by the painter that Vincent was familiar with at the time.