Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Richet, Alfred
Paris, 1893–1992

Alfred Richet was a French collector, dealer, and critic with a focus on early twentieth-century art centered in Paris. Richet was one of seven children of Charles Richet (1850–1935) and his wife Amélie (née Aubry). Charles, himself the son of a highly respected surgeon, won the Nobel Prize for his research on anaphylaxis in 1913.

Richet showed interest in the arts from adolescence, and an early catalyst for Richet’s focus on modern art was Olivier Sainsère, whose daughter had married one of Richet’s brothers. A prominent politician, Sainsère had assembled an important collection of Post-Impressionist art, as well as examples from such emerging artists as Picasso, whom he knew personally, and Matisse. For three years, Richet took courses at L’Ecole du Louvre and frequented public and private art galleries. Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Richet met the dealer and collector André Level, who in turn introduced Richet to African art. Richet’s art collecting commenced modestly in 1913 with a watercolor by Paul Signac, followed by drawings of Albert Marque, as well as wartime acquisitions of minor paintings by Moïse Kisling, Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, and Raoul Dufy.

Richet served in World War I and married Simone Herscher, the daughter of mining engineer Eugène Herscher, in September 1917. Simone Richet shared her husband’s interest in modern art. Richet subsequently worked for a coal importing company while continuing to take active part in the Parisian art scene. Around 1922 he became affiliated with Level’s newly opened Galerie Percier, for which he worked as an administrator. Through the gallery, he met and developed a lifelong friendship with the prominent collector André Lefèvre, the president of Galerie Percier. Lefèvre had a profound impact on Richet’s approach to collecting. In the course of the 1920s, Richet also met the dealers Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Léonce Rosenberg and Leopold Zborowski, becoming a repeat customer. Richet also established lasting friendships with the artists whose art he championed and collected, including Picasso and Georges Braque.

Before meeting Kahnweiler, Richet purchased at least two works by Picasso at the Kahnweiler sequestration sales that took place at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris in the early 1920s. During subsequent decades, Richet acquired additional Cubist works by Juan Gris, The Bottle (1914; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection), Fernand Léger, and Picasso, Standing Nude (1907-08; The Metropolitan Museum of Art). He also collected pictorial works by the poet Max Jacob. Continuously refining his art holdings, Richet sold and bought works from his collection with some of the transactions made through Galerie Percier. Richet authored essays on art and collecting that appeared in Bulletin de L’Effort Moderne (1927) and L’Intrasigeant (1928).

Contributed by Anna Jozefacka, April 2017
For more information, see:

The Alfred Richet Collection of 20th Century Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Sale cat. Sotheby’s, London. November 29, 1994.

Gee, Malcom. Dealers, Critics, and Collectors of Modern Painting. Aspects of the Parisian Art Market Between 1910 and 1930. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1981.

Artwork from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection Formerly Owned By Collector/Dealer:
The Bottle
The Bottle Juan Gris
Paris, 1914