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Siegfried Bing, 1838-1905

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1838
Place of Birth: Hamburg
Place of Death: Vaucresson, France


Siegfried ('Samuel') Bing was an art dealer, critic and patron, was of German birth. He came from a wealthy Hamburg family. His father was an industrial decorator of ceramics. His son Marcel Bing was a talented Art Nouveau jeweller.


Bing was a specialist in oriental art and Art nouveau. He trained firstly under his father and then in Paris. After the Franco-Prussian War, he established an Oriental trading business, primarily of Japanese arts. This was a great success and Bing opened an Oriental crafts shop in Paris in the late 1870s. Following a trip to Japan, he expanded the business in the 1880s, selling both contemporary and ancient Japanese objects. At the end of the 1880s, Bing founded a monthly periodical, Le Japon artistique and organized a series of exhibitions of rare Japanese art, featuring ceramics and ukiyoe prints. He became one of the main collectors of Japanese ceramics and prints.

In 1894 Bing was commissioned by the French government to produce a report on the state of American art (La Culture artistique en Amerique, Paris, 1896). In December 1895 he reopened his Paris gallery as the first Salon of International Art Nouveau, exhibiting works by the Belgian artists Henry Van de Velde and Georges Lemmen, as well as stained glass from Edouard Vuillard, Paul Ranson, Pierre Bonnard, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Felix Vallotton and Toulouse-Lautrec, which was executed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in America. The exhibition was extremely controversial and was criticised by the press.

In his gallery, Bing also sold fabrics and wallpapers by William Morris, silks from Liberty & Co. in London, and metalwork by the English Arts and Crafts designer W. A. S. Benson. He also sold a number of works by JW. In May 1897 Bing bought Green and Gold: The Sloop y368 for £200. JW wrote to Bing in May of this year saying that he had signed the work as requested by Bing's client. He asked the buyer's identity and whether the work could be made available for future exhibition. At this time Bing also bought a number of lithographs and etchings from JW. At some point in the late 1890s JW wrote Bing a letter of introduction to the collector Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston.

In 1899 Bing exhibited examples of his own studio's jewellery in the Grafton Galleries, London. This exhibition was badly received by press and public. He opened his own pavilion, Art Nouveau Bing, at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. A major sale of Bing's private Oriental art collection was held in 1906 in Paris.


Weisberg, Gabriel P., 'Samuel Bing: International Dealer of Art Nouveau', Connoisseur, vol. 158, 1971, pp. 200-5, 275-83; vol. 159, 1971, pp. 49-55, 211-19; Monneret, S., L'Impressionisme et son époque, Paris, 1978-79; Weisberg, G. P., 'S. Bing's Craftsmen Workshops: A Location and Importance Revealed', Source, autumn 1983, pp. 42-48; Weisberg, G. P., Art Nouveau Bing: Paris Style, 1900, New York, 1986; Weisberg, G. P., 'Felix Vallotton, Siegfried Bing and l'Art Nouveau', Art Magazine, vol. 60, February 1986, pp. 33-37; Weisberg, G. P., 'S. Bing, Edvard Munch and l'Art Nouveau', Art Magazine, vol. 61, September 1986, pp. 58-64; Weisberg, G. P., 'Siegfried Bing and Industry: The Hidden Side of l'Art Nouveau', Apollo, vol. 128/321, 1988, pp. 326-29, 379; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; Weisburg, Gabriel, 'S. Bing', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 21 May 2002).