The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation), has graciously lent The Sower, painted in the town of Arles in southern France in November of 1888. It is shown in the Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery with a work that van Gogh had known through reproductions since at least the early 1880s, Jean-François Millet’s monumental canvas The Sower, probably painted about 1850 and in Boston by 1855.
The juxtaposition of these paintings is part of an ongoing series of encounters with great art from museums and private collections across the world—a series called “Visiting Masterpieces.” The Museum’s goal is to bring to Boston carefully chosen works by artists and cultures of all places and periods, in order to enliven our galleries and to allow our audiences the chance to see renowned objects in the context of our collections. The two Sowers—by Millet and by van Gogh—have never before been seen together in Boston. The Museum welcomes this “visitor” to an installation that includes three works by van Gogh from the MFA collection (Postman Joseph Roulin, Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse), and Ravine).