Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse)
Vincent van Gogh, Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890
92.7 x 72.7 cm (36 1/2 x 28 5/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Out on Loan
On display at Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan, June 28, 2014 – September 15, 2014
Van Gogh painted Augustine Roulin, the wife of Joseph Roulin, in bold, exaggerated colors against a vividly patterned background; the rope in her hands leads to a cradle. At right, the painter inscribed the title "La Berceuse," which means both "lullaby" and "she who rocks the cradle." Van Gogh once wrote, "I want to paint men and women with that something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolize, and which we seek to convey by the actual radiance and vibration of our coloring."
Lower right, along chair: La Berceuse
Probably passed from the artist to his brother, Theo van Gogh (b. 1857 - d. 1891), Paris; consigned by Theo van Gogh to Julien-François Tanguy (b. 1825 - d. 1894), Paris [see note 1]. 1905, purchased at the Salon des Indépendants, Paris, by Count Antoine de la Rochefoucauld, Paris [see note 2]; sold by the Count de la Rochefoucauld to Paul Rosenberg, Paris and New York; 1928, sold by Paul Rosenberg to John Taylor Spaulding (b. 1870 - d. 1948), Boston; 1948, bequest of John Taylor Spaulding to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 3, 1948)
 See J.-B. de la Faille, "The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings" (New York, 1970), p. 631, no. F508. In 1889, Theo van Gogh deposited a large group of his brother's paintings with Tanguy; whether this painting was among them has not been determined.  According to Paul Rosenberg (verbally, May 11, 1948; see note in MFA curatorial file), Rochefoucauld purchased the painting at the Salon des Indépendants around 1892 and subsequently sold it to Rosenberg. It is more likely that Rochefoucauld purchased it in 1905, when the painting was exhibited at the Retrospective Exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants, Paris (March 24 - May 30, 1905), no. 7.
Bequest of John T. Spaulding