Never-Before-Exhibited Vincent van Gogh Painting Will Be on View and Up for Auction


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The works of Vincent van Gogh are prized around the world. His paintings in museums—such as The Starry Night and Sunflowers—draw thousands of visitors a day. Recently, a painting by the legendary artist has emerged from a private collection. Known as Scène de rue à Montmartre (Impasse des Deux Frères et le Moulin à Poivre), the painting depicts a street scene in Montmartre, Paris. The painting will be exhibited to the public for the first time since it was painted over a century ago. After traveling to London, Amsterdam, and Paris, the work will then be auctioned in March by Sotheby's Paris and Mirabaud Mercier.

Van Gogh painted the work in the spring of 1887, only three years before his death. Scène de rue à Montmartre is one of a series the Dutch artist created to document the hill of Montmartre where he lived (in the 18th arrondissement of Paris). The neighborhood was the playground of the Impressionists. An important gathering place for the artistic types was the Moulin de la Galette. The 17th-century windmill became a popular watering hole and dance hall. The social scene inside and around the windmill were depicted by the likes of Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Van Gogh himself painted the scene many times, creating what is known as the Le Moulin de la Galette series of works. Most of these paintings are now in public museums, which makes the display of the Scène de rue à Montmartre an important moment.

Van Gogh's later life was troubled, and he passed away in 1890. The Scène de rue à Montmartre was purchased in 1920 by a French collector. It depicts the Moulin Dubray or Moulin à Poivre, another windmill in Montmartre. In the background, the decorations of the Moulin de la Galette are visible. For the past century, the painting has remained in the hands of one family. Although known to scholars through several exhibition catalogs, the work has never been exhibited publicly. As a rare treasure, the piece is expected to sell for between five and eight million euros (approximately six to 10 million dollars) at auction in March 2021. Aurélie Vandevoorde of Sotheby's said in a statement, “The appearance on the market of a painting of this calibre, from such an iconic series, undoubtedly marks a major event.”

To stay up to date with the travels of the Scène de rue à Montmartre and its eventual auction, follow Sotheby's France and Mirabaud Mercier.

A Vincent van Gogh painting entitled Scène de rue à Montmartre depicts the famous Moulin de la Galette, one of the windmills of Montmartre.

Moulin de la Galette Windmill Montmartre

Le Moulin de la Galette in Paris, photographed 1885. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The painting has been in a private French collection since 1920, and it will now be exhibited publicly for the first time ever, before it is auctioned by Sotheby's and Mirabaud Mercier in March 2021.

Vincent van Gogh Windmills on Montmartre Series

“Windmills on Montmartre,” by Vincent van Gogh, 1886. Another depiction from the “Le Moulin de la Galette” series. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

h/t: [CNN, The Guardian]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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