The international art dealers Boussod, Valadon & Cie, known as Goupil & Cie until 1884, had three locations in Paris: the headquarters at 9 Rue Chaptal and two galleries at 2 Place de L’Opera and 19 Boulevard Montmartre. Vincent’s brother Theo (1857–1891) became manager of the Boulevard Montmartre branch in 1881. By then, he had eight years of experience with the firm, having begun in 1873 as the youngest clerk in the Brussels branch and gone on to work at the one in The Hague (where Vincent had started).
The firm was known for selling reproductions but also dealt in original works. It occupied a prominent position in the Parisian art world and sold works by well-known artists such as Léon Augustin Lhermitte, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Vittorio Matteo Corcos, Camille Corot, Claude Monet, Charles-François Daubigny and Adolphe Monticelli. The Georges Petit and Durand-Ruel galleries provided formidable competition. Theo’s duties consisted of buying art for the gallery and its clients and looking for new markets.
In 1886, Theo began displaying Impressionist work in the gallery’s mezzanine, helping a new generation of artists to gain visibility. When Vincent lived in Paris, he often went to exhibitions at his brother’s gallery, such as one in December 1887 featuring work by Paul Gauguin, Armand Guillaumin and Camille Pissarro. Yet Theo eventually became unhappy with his job, and Vincent worried about him. By 1890, Theo had had enough. He wrote to Vincent:
“...those rats Boussod & Valadon treat me as if I’d just started working for them and keep me on a leash.” Read the complete letter
Theo resolved to leave Boussod, Valadon & Cie and open his own gallery, but he never got the chance. He died on 25 January 1891, six months after his brother Vincent.