Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vincent van Gogh at Auction

 Sotheby's November 4, 2014 

LOT SOLD. 61,765,000 USD

Sotheby’s will offer Vincent van Gogh’s Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies in its Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York on November 4, 2014. Painted at the home of Dr. Paul Gachet just weeks before the end of Van Gogh’s life, the artist uses the richly-colored bouquet of wildflowers to convey his psychological state at the time – a hallmark of the Expressionist icon. The resulting composition teems with the intense energy, emotion and sensitivity of this creative genius at the height of his short but renowned career. Still Life is one of the few works that Van Gogh sold during his lifetime, and is one of only a handful of great works by the artist to appear at auction in recent decades. The painting comes to auction this November with a pre-sale estimate of $30/50 million. 
Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist & Modern Art Department, commented: “Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies radiates the exuberance and passion found in Van Gogh’s greatest and most coveted works. The vibrant composition captures in sharp relief the intensity of the artist at the height of his mania, only weeks before his tragic end. Still Life has remained in the same private collection for more than two decades, which adds again to its appeal for today’s market. We are privileged to present it to collectors across the globe this autumn.”

Vincent van Gogh painted the present work in June of 1890 in Auvers-sur Oise, the town where he settled following his release from the asylum at St-Rémy that May. Renting a room at the local Ravoux Inn, he spent his days setting up his easel in the fields to paint the scenes of the lush countryside, as well as visiting with his physician, Dr. Gachet.

Still Life was painted at Dr. Gachet's house and presumably came immediately into his possession upon completion. The viewer can imagine Van Gogh walking through the fields on his way to Gachet's, gathering up armfuls of poppies, daisies, cornflowers and sheaves of wheat to squeeze into one of the doctor’s modest vases. In comparison with the more reserved and academic still-lifes that he had completed in Paris in the mid-1880s, the present work evinces a dramatic shift in Van Gogh’s painterly style, characterized by a frenetic energy. The artist was flooded with anxiety in Auvers, and this agitation spilled over onto even his most optimistic canvases. It is in these same fields that Van Gogh would attempt to take his own life, only weeks after painting this work.

Whether Van Gogh gave Still Life to Dr. Gachet in exchange for medical consultation is unknown, but he was certainly dependent upon his brother Theo for money and art supplies at the end of his life. Van Gogh was eager to show his brother – an art dealer – that he could support himself, and he believed that his still lifes would be the most saleable of his compositions.

Still Life is one of the very few paintings sold during Van Gogh’s lifetime. It was acquired by Gaston Alexandre Camentron, a noted collector of Impressionist pictures, who eventually sold it to Paul Cassirer Gallery in 1911. Still Life remained with a series of private collectors in Germany until the mid-1920s, when it made its way to London and eventually to New York – one of the earliest works by the artist to enter the United States – where it was sold by the Knoedler Gallery in 1928 to A. Conger Goodyear. Known as one of the principle founders of the Museum of Modern Art, Goodyear kept this work in his family's private collection. It was eventually gifted in part by the Goodyears to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, where it was on display for over 30 years before it was sold at the request of the family.

Sotheby’s  Impressionist and Modern Art in London  December 7, 1999

An oil painting by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh is the highlight of the inaugural exhibition to mark the opening of Sotheby’s prestigious new Netherlands headquarter saleroom and offices at the De Boelelaan in the southern part of Amsterdam.The painting has been consigned for sale in London in December by a Dutch family. Entitled A Park in Spring, it was acquired by the grandfather of the present owners in 1923.

A Park in Spring represents flowers and trees in a park in Paris in 1887 and is painted in a jewel-like, pointilist style that shows the influence of Seurat and Signac on Van Gogh at this point in his career. Van Gogh had arrived in Paris from Holland the previous year, a move which inspired him to lighten his palette, thus marking a vital step in the evolution of his mature style.

The painting will be offered for sale in Sotheby’s major sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in London on the evening of Tuesday, December 7, 1999. It is estimated at £3-4 million.

A Park in Spring was until recently on temporary loan at The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam where it hung next to its permanent collection. Last year, while the museum underwent renovation, the painting toured America with the museum’s permanent collection. 

Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art in New York November 7 & 8, 2007


The Fields (Wheat Fields)by Vincent van Gogh is possibly the last landscape the artist ever painted (est. $28/35 million). This stunning and poignant work belongs to a celebrated series of spectacular canvases painted in early July 1890. The sprawling, golden wheat field in Auvers-sur-Oise was the subject that captured the artist’s imagination during these final weeks of his life. Looking out over the rolling hills of this fragrant countryside, he set up his easel and painted the expanse of wild flowers and long sheaves rustling in the breeze. None of the turmoil that the artist was wrestling with in his inner life is evident in this glorious picture, which reads as a vibrant celebration of the richness of the land and the beauty of France. Van Gogh’s final months were spent at the Ravoux Inn in Auvers, and the present canvas was among the works that hung in his room at the time of his death. His brother, Theo, was so moved by the picture that it was kept in the family for nearly twenty years. From 2001-2007, this masterwork was on loan to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where it hung alongside a series of deeply moving and poignant landscapes painted in the final year of the artist’s life.

Christie's 2017

Vincent van Gogh’s Le moissonneur (1889, estimate £12,500,000-16,500,000) is one of a series of ten works executed after Jean-François Millet’s Les travaux des champs – seven of which are in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – described by his brother Theo as “perhaps the finest things you’ve done.”

Painted at Saint-Rémy in September 1889 at a critical moment in the penultimate year of Vincent van Gogh’s life, Le moissonneur (d’après Millet) pays homage to the artist whom he most admired and respected: Jean-François Millet. Charged with intense colour and electrifying brushwork, this painting dates from the beginning of one of the most prolific periods of Van Gogh’s career, a stage that saw an almost miraculous outpouring of work in the midst of the artist’s episodic yet ever-increasing mental breakdowns that punctuated the final years of his life. 

Le Moissonneur (d’après Millet) is one of ten paintings that Van Gogh made after a series of drawings by Jean-François Millet entitled Les Travaux des Champs (1852), seven of which now reside in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, with the other two in private hands. The work of Millet became a major focus for Van Gogh during this period, following the gift of a set of engravings of Millet’s Les Travaux des Champs by Jacques-Adrien Lavielle that was sent to Van Gogh from his brother Theo van Gogh the same year. Le Moissonneur (d’après Millet), employs the composition of Millet but is filled with Van Gogh’s own dramatic and intense use of colour. With his back to the viewer, bent over as he works the fields, the male figure is illuminated against the deep blue sky and golden yellow fields. 
  Christie's 2014


Christie's 2011


Christie's 2010



Vrouw Zittend voor een Geopende Deur, Aardappels Schillend (Woman Seated Before an Open Door, Peeling Potatoes)



Christie's  2009

Christie's 2008


Christie's 2005

Christie's 2000

Van Gogh: Irises and Roses
May 12–August 16, 2015 

Van Gogh: Irises and Roses

Vincent van Gogh, Irises, 1890. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Adele R. Levy, 1958.

The exuberant bouquets of spring flowers that punctuate Van Gogh’s work in Provence will be reunited in Van Gogh: Irises and Roses at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, beginning May 12, 2015. 

The exhibition will bring together for the first time the quartet of flower paintings—two of irises, two of roses, in contrasting formats and color schemes—that Van Gogh made on the eve of his departure from the asylum at Saint-Rémy in which he sought to impart a “calm, unremitting ardor” to the “last stroke of the brush.” 

Conceived as a series or ensemble on a par with the Sunflowers decoration painted earlier in Arles, the group includes the Metropolitan Museum’s Irises and Roses and their counterparts: the upright Irises from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and the horizontal Roses from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 

The presentation is timed to accord with the blooming of the flowers that had captivated the artist’s attention, opening 125 years to the week that Van Gogh announced he was working on these “large bouquets” in letters to his brother dated May 11 and 13, 1890. It will offer a revealing look at the signature still lifes in a singular context, inviting reconsideration of his artistic aims and the impact of dispersal and color fading on his intended results.

Van Gogh worked with steady enthusiasm on the suite of irises and roses during his last week at the asylum at Saint-Rémy, where he had taken refuge since the previous May (for a condition diagnosed by his doctors as a form of epilepsy). With his release from institutional life in sight, he marked the end of his stay with flowers from the overgrown garden he had depicted upon his arrival, bringing his work in Saint-Rémy full circle. At the same time, he extended his repertoire of still life painting (which had suffered neglect in the interim) with an admirable sequel to the glorious Sunflowers series of Arles.

They were painted while he was packing his belongings for his move to Auvers, in the wake of an incapacitating breakdown that had robbed him of early spring—a pocket of time he likened to the calm after the storm. Completed just three days before he boarded the northbound train, the bouquets took shape in swift succession. He was determined to make up for lost time, to prove he had not lost his touch, and to make the “last strokes” count. Van Gogh’s facility of execution matched the rigor of his conception. He relied on canvases corresponding in size and composition, each anchored by a slightly off-center vase and unified by a common horizon line. Within the group he paired the works by subject, format, and style, engaging them in a rich dialogue of contrasts, the whole governed by the assertive play of contrasting complementaries—yellows/violets, pinks/greens—used in different combinations for different expressive effects. These ranged, as Van Gogh noted of the violet irises, from the “effect of terribly disparate complementaries” of the bouquet against a yellow background, to the “soft and harmonious” effect of the bouquet against pink.

Left behind to dry sufficiently, the paintings arrived in Auvers in late June, a month before Van Gogh died. They were dispersed by the following spring. Like their group dynamic, the colors and effects he had intended are no longer intact owing to his use of light-sensitive pigments. The chrome yellows have darkened slightly, and the highly fugitive red lakes have faded almost completely. In turn, the violet irises are nearly blue, the pink background and pink roses almost white. The carefully plotted color relationships (within and between the works), the integrity of various details, and the intensity of overall expression have been lost in the balance. 
Despite these casualties—which are endemic to Van Gogh’s mature work as a whole, given his penchant for working in series and bright red lakes—the pictures were invested with enough wall power to hold their own. (The two in the Metropolitan’s collection had held a place on the walls of his mother’s house until her death in 1907; by then, the once-pink roses that had hung in her vestibule, were described as “white.”)

The Museum’s initiative in reuniting the group of four paintings has been the stimulus for new technical and documentary investigations, undertaken in close collaboration with researchers, conservators, and scientists at the lending institutions. These findings will be introduced in the exhibition, which will include color reconstructions, based on extensive analysis and comparative study. The installation will present the paintings in the order in which they were realized, and in frames adapted from the artist’s profile but designed to be non-obtrusive, so that the unfolding logic and verve of Van Gogh’s four-part painting campaign may be fully appreciated.