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