Vincent van GOGH (1853-1890)
See also : Self portrait Self portrait II Landscape Children Midi Flowers Tabletop Bouquet
Chronology : 19th century 1880-1889 1888 1889 1890-1899 1890
November 1888 Les Alyscamps
2015 SOLD for $ 66M by Sotheby's
He moved to the maison jaune where he wanted to create a community of artists named by him L'Atelier du Midi. Paul Gauguin arrived as his first guest on 23 October.
A period of fine weather, from October 29 to November 2, allows a first outdoor session. The two artists set their easels in the Alyscamps dominated by the bright yellow of the autumn leaves.
They must come to some understanding. Two of van Gogh paintings include forms within sharp outlines that could appeal to Gauguin. Their very different conceptions of artistic creation begin however to oppose the two artists from that first trials. Gauguin is a cerebral man for whom the achievement must be consistent with the original design, van Gogh is an impulsive wishing that the spontaneous gesture contributes to the artwork.
On May 5, 2015, Sotheby's sold for $ 66M a view of the Alyscamps painted on November 1, 1888, oil on canvas 92 x 74 cm, lot 18. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's. Its image is also shared by Wikimedia.
The composition is geometric, with its perspective view of the allée of trees. The contrast between the warm colors of soil and trees and the cold blue sky make this van Gogh painting resolutely away from the flat colors of Gauguin. The expression is enhanced by the rich shades of the palette. This painting contains the elements that will generate misunderstanding and estrangement between the two great artists.
April 1889 Paysage sous un Ciel Mouvementé
2015 SOLD for $ 54M by Sotheby's
His mental health had always been fragile. The tension in his relationship with Gauguin rushed his delirious crises requiring his internment in psychiatric hospitals. His anguished questioning about the unknown cause of his illness worsens his condition. He cannot work during his crises.
On November 5, 2015, Sotheby's sold for $ 54M Paysage sous un ciel mouvementé, oil on canvas 60 x 74 cm, lot 14 estimated $ 50M. This artwork was made in mid-April 1889 within a very short period of lull that allowed him again to paint outdoors. This insignificant countryside surrounding Arles cannot be located with more accuracy.
That new spring looked very different to him from that of the previous year. The flowery meadow that occupies the foreground is not welcoming although a little character is coming to pick flowers. It is well lit but not sunny. The trees are twisted off by the wind.
The clouds are processed in a thick impasto involving all shades of gray, with a great violence that anticipates the whirlpools in the starry sky of the following months. This tormented painting is already attesting the fatal drift of his genius into dementia.
May 1889 Les Iris
1987 SOLD for $ 54M by Sotheby's
Sale canceled in 1990
The first feeling is very good. His pictorial creation is a lightning rod which will protect him against his illness. He sets to work with a new enthusiasm. The garden of the former monastery is beautiful in the middle of spring, and perhaps later he will be able to walk in the Alpilles which he sees on the horizon.
The iris flowerbed attracts his attention. He paints at the very beginning of his stay with an obvious pleasure an oil on canvas 74 x 93 cm, apparently without preparatory drawing. The irises occupy the foreground, in a varied and stylized arrangement which is certainly inspired by the processing of close-ups and angles in Japanese prints. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Vincent appreciated since Gauguin's stay at the Maison Jaune a few months earlier that the vividness of colors has become his best strength, and that flowers perfectly match it. The flowers of his irises are bright blue with the exception of one single white flower. This painting is a study of contrasts with the green leaves of the same plants, painted a little lighter than real, the orange flowers of the marigolds in the background and the ocher ground.
Theo is all the more amazed that happy impulses are very rare for Vincent in this tragic period. In September he exhibits this masterpiece alongside the Starry Night at the annual Salon of the Société des Artistes Indépendants.
Les Iris was sold for $ 54M by Sotheby's on November 11, 1987, seven months after the record setting sale by Christie's of the Sunflowers by the same artist for the equivalent of $ 40M. It returned to the auction house for default of the winning bidder, an Australian businessman, and was acquired in 1990 by the J. Paul Getty Museum.
September 2, 1889 Laboureur dans un Champ
2017 SOLD for $ 81M by Christie's
On June 18, Vincent paints La Nuit étoilée in which the stars are transformed into whirlwinds of fire. Anxious about the loss of control of his mental health, Vincent believes being appeased by the energy of his hallucination. Doctors fear another major crisis. They are right : it happens in mid-July.
Supervised by the doctors, Vincent does not paint during his crises. He takes his brushes again in the last days of August. The window of his room looks to the east. The sun rising above the wheat field is blinding and hypnotic, and also reveals the bright colors that constitute the soil. The colors are intermingled like swirls, scars and tongues of fire with an extreme violence.
This oil on canvas 50 x 65 cm is titled Laboureur dans un champ. The man, the horse and the plow in mid-distance against the light offer a new opus of the favorite theme of Vincent's career, a result of his lifelong empathy with the soil workers.
Healing through hard work that released his impulses was only an illusion but it produced unprecedented masterpieces. The next crisis comes in December.
Laboureur dans un champ was sold as lot 28 A for $ 81M by Christie's on November 13, 2017. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
September 1889 Portrait de l'Artiste sans Barbe
1998 SOLD for $ 71.5M by Christie's
The crisis is severe. Vincent does not go out any more and cannot resume his brushes before the end of August. Through the window, he sees a free man, the only free man who passes in his angle of vision, a peasant with his horse and his plow. Laboureur dans un champ was sold for $ 81M by Christie's in 2017.
Once again he feels a frantic urge to paint, as an antidote to his illness. Concerned also by the visible signs of madness on his face, he makes three self-portraits in bust, from the left side to hide the right ear.
On two of them, he is bearded. The background is decorated with swirls in his new signature style. On the portrait which is preserved in the Museum of Oslo, perhaps the earliest in this small series, the biased gaze is incontestably psychotic. About the painting that is currently in the Musée d'Orsay, he writes to Theo with a remarkable lucidity that his face is calm but that some distress remains in his gaze.
The other self-portrait is different. He painted it to make a birthday present to his mother, who turns 70 on September 10, 1889. To appear still young and healthy, the face is without beard, which does not mean that it corresponded to reality : a beardless man was not in the fashion of the time. He also wanted to make his caregivers and Theo believe that he felt cured.
This Portrait de l'artiste sans barbe, oil on canvas 65 x 54 cm, was sold for $ 71.5M by Christie's on November 19, 1998 from a lower estimate of $ 20M. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
October 1889 Vue de l'Asile
2018 SOLD for $ 40M by Christie's
Laboureur dans un champ is a masterpiece of that new phase, composed from memory and from what he could see from the window. This oil on canvas 50 x 65 cm completed in September 2, 1889, was sold for $ 81M on 2017.
Vue de l'asile et de la chapelle Saint-Paul de Mausole à Saint-Rémy, oil on canvas 45 x 60 cm, was painted in mid-October. It was sold twice by Christie's : from the deceased estate of Elizabeth Taylor on February 7, 2012 for £ 10.1M, lot 12, and for $ 40M on May 15, 2018, lot 24 A. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
It is an overview of the buildings of the asylum, in a gentle stylized realism. The swirling textures of the sky and trees open the way to the masterpieces of Auvers, and in the whole lower part of the image the tangle of colors of the field is already foreshadowing the colorists of the next century..
The importance of this view in Vincent's art has been re-evaluated. It appears now as being the only landscape in that fall that Vincent had painted outdoors throughout, under the close surveillance of an attendant.
In his signature line previously used in Laboureur, Vincent offers in this view a much quieter rendering. Feeling that he was on the way to recover, he was happy with his great control of his brushstroke and delighted with the autumnal colors.
October 1889 Arbres
2019 SOLD for $ 40M by Christie's
La Nuit étoilée, oil on canvas painted in June 1889 at the asylum of St-Rémy, is unprecedented in the history of art. Vincent first wanted to paint the colors of the night. In order for them to be clearly visible, he oversized the Moon and the stars which have become swirls of colors.
La Nuit étoilée is also a landscape with the village of St-Rémy and the Alpilles. It is dominated in the foreground by an isolated floating tree, disproportionate and asymmetrical. With its longevity and its evergreen leaves, the cypress is the symbol of eternal life and the tree of the graveyards.
In October 1889 nature offers a satisfaction to Vincent : that autumn is superb. The artist paints the colors of the garden. With a texture of violent lines, the brushstroke has integrated the style of the Starry Night. In the foreground two or three thin trunks twist. The only vertical reference in this unbalanced universe is the tall cypress, in the distance, with the same asymmetry as the tree of the Starry Night.
Painted in vibrant colors, Arbres dans le Jardin de l'Asile, oil on canvas 42 x 34 cm, was sold as lot 15A for $ 40M by Christie's on May 13, 2019. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
October 1889 Cabanes de Bois
2021 SOLD for $ 71M by Christie's
Indeed Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès is an opposition between the quietness of the rural scenery and the furious desire of the artist to survive while he is still a resident in the asylum at Saint-Rémy.
The composition is simple, centered on the group of two huts. The expression is provided by the mingling of the full range of bright colors of the fall, from the incandescent soil to the purple mountains and the turquoise blue sky though the green and gray foliages, the red roofs and the violet shadows.
Cabanes, oil on canvas 45 x 60 cm, was sold for $ 71M by Christie's on November 11, 2021, lot 4C.
Christie's is honored to announce The Cox Collection: The Story of Impressionism, one of the greatest American collections to ever appear in the auction market, featuring masterpieces by Caillebotte, Cézanne and Van Gogh. https://t.co/mbwxiH4FIc pic.twitter.com/D3w0IP4gyU— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) July 29, 2021
June 1890 Portrait du Dr Gachet
1990 SOLD for 82.5 M$ by Christie's
Gachet, 62, is a doctor, a psychiatrist and a friend of the artists. The subject of his doctoral thesis had been a study on melancholy. He advised several members of the Impressionist group on their health problems and had attempted to assist the engraver Charles Méryon in the final phase of his internment.
Vincent is surprised by their first meeting, during which he considers that Gachet is crazier than him. However, the doctor is skillful : in two days he gains the confidence of this hypersensitive artist.
For his art, Vincent seeks to express the deepest psychological aspects. He is still and always passionate about the examples of his predecessors, to better overcome them. He admires the expression of madness in the imaginary portrait by Delacroix of the poet Torquato Tasso in the madhouse of Ferrara.
The Portrait of Dr Gachet is an oil on canvas 67 x 56 cm painted in June 1890. Vincent commented on this work in a letter to his sister. He wanted to display the melancholy of his new friend while recognizing that his expression can be considered a grimace. He sums up his qualities in four words : Sad but gentle and yet clear and intelligent.
Gachet has his head resting on his right hand, allowing a diagonal composition of great expressive force. The face is drawn with the hard lines of the best works of Vincent. On the table, two bright yellow books balance the composition. A branch of digitalis, a medicinal herb, symbolizes Gachet's main activity.
The Portrait of Dr Gachet was sold for $ 82.5M by Christie's on May 15, 1990. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
June 1890 Wild Flowers for Dr Gachet
2014 SOLD for $ 62M by Sotheby's
In May 1890 Vincent moved into a room at the local inn in Auvers. He did not have a studio and regularly attended the home of Gachet, a friend of the Impressionists and Cézanne.
Since he is sick, Vincent is terrorized by the idea of failure and by the risk of a new crisis of dementia. With the energy of despair, he gives a new impetus to his old ambition to become the best painter of all time, the only one capable of a synthesis of all genres. Gachet has a painting by Cézanne showing a bouquet of flowers. Vincent wants to do better.
Spring brings forth the flowers into the fields. On November 4, 2014, Sotheby's sold for $ 62M from a lower estimate of $ 30M an oil on canvas 66 x 50 cm painted by Vincent on 16 and 17 June 1890, lot 17. Executed in the clear intention to thank Gachet for his help, this artwork shows a vase filled with daisies and poppies.
The composition is powerful and the colors are gorgeous, dominated in the center by the fiery red poppies. The groups of flowers shine like some characters within the ultimate tragedy of Vincent.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's :
June 1890 Jeune Homme au Bleuet
2021 SOLD for $ 47M by Christie's
Le Jeune homme au bleuet is an unidentified young peasant boy of whom Vincent painted the portrait in June 1890 in Auvers.
The portrait is uncompromising. The lower class boy has a sun bathed dark skin, a shaggy blond hair, a sad gaze and a forced smile. He holds a cornflower between his lips. The line is much expressive in the style of Vincent's later works.
This oil on canvas 40 x 32 cm was sold for $ 47M from a lower estimate of $ 5M by Christie's on November 11, 2021, lot 21C.