Unseen Van Gogh from formative period to be auctioned in March

Photo: Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio
The painting is expected to raise up to €8m. Photo: Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio

A painting by Vincent van Gogh never seen by the public is to be sold by auction houses Sotheby’s and Mirabaud Mercier on March 25.

Scène de rue à Montmatre has been privately owned by an unnamed French family for a century and has only ever been seen in catalogues, a spokesperson for the Van Gogh Museum confirmed to NU.nl.

‘Very few paintings from Van Gogh’s Montmartre period remain in private hands – most are in the collections of prestigious museums around the world,’ Aurélie Vandevoorde of the auctioneer’s impressionist and modern art department in France told the Guardian. ‘The appearance on the market of a painting of this calibre, from such an iconic series, undoubtedly marks a major event.’

The scene, of a couple walking arm in arm passing two playing children, was painted in 1887, three years before his death, when Van Gogh was staying in Paris with his art dealer brother Theo.

Van Gogh’s time in Paris is seen as a pivotal moment in his career. Although initially unimpressed by the Impressionist painters – ‘they are a bitter, bitter disappointment’– he eventually adopted their light brushstroke and use of colour.

Van Gogh failed to sell any of the work he produced in Paris. His latest to come onto the market is expected to fetch between €5m and €8m.

Prospective buyers can make an appointment to view the painting at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam on March 1, 2 and 3. The painting will then go on display in London and Paris to drum up further interest.

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