• In 1886, van Gogh left his native Holland for Paris, where he learned from the Impressionists to look closely at nature and to lighten his dark palette. Unlike the Impressionists, however, he became less interested in capturing visual reality than in exploring color and line as a means of personal expression. These works from the collection are representative of those explorations.

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  • Young Girl in an Apron

    1883
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    See Notes for confirmation of media.

    Inscription

    Verso: upper left, in pen: "6"

    Provenance

    Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam; Private collection, Netherlands; Amsterdam sale (Mak) 15 April 1969, no. 204 repr.; John Streep Art Dealer, New York and Amsterdam (acquired 1969); E. V. Thaw & Co., New York; purchased by MFA May 1970

    Credit Line

    William Francis Warden Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    De la Faille 1685; Hulsker 300

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 48.6 x 25.6 cm (19 1/8 x 10 1/16 in.) Framed: 75.6 x 51.1 cm (29 3/4 x 20 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1970.468

    Medium or Technique

    Black crayon, iron-gall ink (with pen and brush), charcoal, graphite, opaque white watercolor and some highlights created by erasure on moderately thick strongly textured wove paper

    Not On View

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  • Landscape with Bog Trunks (Travaux aux Champs)

    October, 1883
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    Provenance

    Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam; H. Tutein Nolthenius, Delft; Mettes Art Gallery, The Hague; Nieuwenhuizen Segaar Art Gallery, The Hague; M. Frank, New York; John Goelet, New York; gift of Goelet to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 10, 1975)

    Credit Line

    Gift of John Goelet

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    de la Faille 1095; Hulsker 406

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 34.3 x 42.4 cm (13 1/2 x 16 11/16 in.) Framed: 53 x 59.7 cm (20 7/8 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1975.375

    Medium or Technique

    Graphite pencil with pen and brown ink on paper

    Not On View

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  • Weaver

    1884
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    Van Gogh’s feeling for the working poor is evident from his earliest works. In 1883-84, he executed at least twenty-eight oil paintings, drawings, and watercolors of the weavers in the district near his family’s home in the Netherlands. His interest was aroused not only by the subject, but by the somber effect of the dark wood and gray walls, contrasting with the red cloth on the loom.

    Provenance

    1884, with the artist but said to be owned by his brother, Theo van Gogh (b. 1857 - d. 1891), Paris [see note 1]; 1885, probably left by the artist in Nuenen and in 1886, deposited with Adrianus Schrauwen (b. 1834 - d. 1920), Breda; 1902, sold by Schrauwen to Johannis Cornelis Couvreur and his brother, Johannes Marinus Couvreur; sold by the Couvreurs to Kees Mouwen (b. 1853 - d. 1913 or 1914), Breda; 1903, probably sold by Mouwen through Kunstzalen Oldenzeel, Rotterdam [see note 2]. Mrs. C. Dekker-Fortanier, The Hague [see note 3]; Miss Nelly Dekker, The Hague; Mrs. C. Dekker-Weinberg, Wassenaar. By 1957, Bernard Houthakker, Amsterdam [see note 4]; 1958, sold by Bernard Houthakker to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 10, 1958) NOTES: [1] In a letter of about April 1, 1884, when this painting was still in progress, Vincent wrote to his brother Theo of "studies which are your property, which I will send you if you like, but if you don't care to have them, I will ask you if I may keep them sometime, as I need them for my work. The one is a large weaver, who weaves a piece of red cloth...." About a month later (about May 1, 1884), Vincent mentioned the painting as still being in his care. See J.-B. de la Faille, "The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings" (Amsterdam, 1970), cat. no. F29 (letters no. 364 and 367). [2] Martha Op de Coul, "In Search of Van Gogh's Nuenen Studio," Van Gogh Museum Journal, 2002, p. 115, has identified the MFA painting with the Weaver exhibited at Oldenzeel from November 1 to December 13, 1903 (no. 12). This was evidently part of a group of works that Van Gogh had left in Nuenen, which were later packed and deposited with Adrianus Schrauwen, who then sold them. When they came into the possession of Kees Mouwen, they may have been owned jointly with Willem van Bakel (b. 1866); see pp. 107-109. [3] The information about the Dekker family is taken from De la Faille, 1970 (as above, n. 1). In earlier editions of De la Faille's catalogue, Nelly Dekker is given as the earliest owner, and Mrs. C. Dekker-Fortanier is listed second. [4] The dealer Houthakker wrote to MFA director Perry T. Rathbone (March 26, 1958) that the painting came "from the collection of Nelly Dekker, The Hague, and her heirs." In a subsequent letter (June 7, 1958), Houthakker mentioned other objects from the Dekker collection that he was selling.

    Credit Line

    Tompkins Collection—Arthur Gordon Tompkins Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    62.5 x 84.4 cm (24 5/8 x 33 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    58.356

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Not On View

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    Europe

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  • Postman Joseph Roulin

    1888
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    One of van Gogh’s closest friends and favorite sitters in Arles was the local postman, Joseph Roulin. While painting this work, van Gogh wrote to his brother, “I am now at work with another model, a postman in blue uniform, trimmed with gold, a big bearded face, very like Socrates.” Indeed, the modest postman has all the authority of an admiral. Van Gogh also painted several portraits of Madame Roulin (for example, MFA object no. 48.548), as well as images of their children, delighted, as he wrote, to depict “a whole family.”

    Provenance

    1889, given or left by the artist to Joseph and Marie Ginoux, Arles; July 9, 1897, sold by the Ginoux, through Henri Laget, to Ambroise Vollard (b. 1867 - d. 1939), Paris [see note 1]; probably September 1, 1897, sold by Vollard to Cornelis Hoogendijk (b. 1866 - d. 1911), The Hague [see note 2]; May 21-22, 1912, posthumous Hoogendijk sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, lot 26, to Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (stock no. 19248) and Paul Cassirer, Inc., Berlin; 1916, sold by Cassirer to Carl Sternheim (b. 1878 - d. 1942) and Théa Sternheim (b. 1883 - d. 1971), La Hulpe, Belgium [see note 3]; February 11, 1919, Théa Sternheim sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, lot 8, not sold [see note 4]; until 1928, in the Sternheim collection [see note 5]; 1928, sold by Théa Sternheim, through Alfred Flechtheim, to the Galerie Étienne Bignou, Paris [see note 6]; 1928, sold by Bignou to M. Knoedler and Co., New York (stock no. A289) and Alex Reid and Lefèvre, Ltd., London [see note 7]; 1928, sold by Knoedler to Robert Treat Paine, 2nd (b. 1861 - d. 1943), Boston; 1935, gift of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd, to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 5, 1935) NOTES: [1] Although in 1888 van Gogh sent many paintings from Arles to his brother Theo in Paris, he retained the painting of the Postman Roulin. When the artist departed Arles for St. Rémy in May 1889, he left a number of paintings with his landlords the Ginoux -- though whether he intended to store them or leave them as gifts is not known. After his death the paintings were rediscovered and sold by the Ginoux through the agent Laget. See Walter Feilchenfeldt, By Appointment Only (London: Thames and Hudson, 2006), pp. 293-305. [2] Hoogendijk made at least seven visits to Vollard's gallery between 1897 and 1899. He is known to have purchased a large group of paintings by Van Gogh on September 1, 1897; he acquired further paintings by the artist in 1899. See Herbert Henkels, "Cézanne en Van Gogh in het Rijksmuseum voor Moderne Kunst in Amsterdam: de collectie van Cornelis Hoogendijk (1866-1911)," Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 41 (1993): 274-275, n. 23 and Rebecca A. Rabinow, ed., Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde (exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006), pp. 57, 59 n. 38, and 223. According to Feilchenfeldt 2006 (as above, n. 1), p. 304, this painting was among those sold in September, 1897. [3] See Théa Sternheim, "Tagebücher, 1905-1927" (Mainz, 1995), pp. 181, 449. The picture was purchased in January of that year. [4] Only three paintings from the auction were sold; all the others, including the "Postman Joseph Roulin," were returned to the Sternheims. See Carl Sternheim, "Briefe: Briefwechsel mit Thea Sternheim, Dorothea und Klaus Sternheim" (Luchterhand, 1988), vol. 2, p. 759. [5] The painting was lent by Carl Sternheim to the exhibition "Ausstellung von Meisterwerken aus Privatsammlungen," Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Germany, August 20 - September 24, 1922. Following the exhibition, the painting - along with other works of art from the Sternheim collection - was deposited at the Kunstmuseum Winterthur. A letter from Heinz Keller, Curator, Kunstmuseum Winterthur to Angelica Rudenstine of the MFA (April 24, 1964), indicates that he did not know when the paintings were returned. However, the "Postman Joseph Roulin" was lent to the exhibition "Vincent van Gogh," Kunsthalle, Basel, March 27 - April 21, 1924 and Kunsthaus, Zurich, July 3 - August 10, 1924. In the catalogue it is said to be on deposit at Winterthur. Théa and Carl Sternheim divorced in 1927 and Théa retained possession of the painting. [6] See Théa Sternheim, "Erinnerungen" (Freiburg, 1995), p. 504. [7] According to letters from Duncan Macdonald of the Bignou Gallery (November 1, 1940) and G. Corcoran of Alex Reid and Lefèvre, Ltd. (April 30, 1964) in the MFA curatorial file. The galleries Bignou and Reid and Lefevre were associated, and shared a stock of paintings.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd

    Details

    Dimensions

    81.3 x 65.4 cm (32 x 25 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    35.1982

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)

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  • Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse)

    1889
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    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.”

    Inscription

    Lower right, along chair: La Berceuse

    Provenance

    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) Notes: [1] 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. [2] 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.

    Credit Line

    Bequest of John T. Spaulding

    Details

    Dimensions

    92.7 x 72.7 cm (36 1/2 x 28 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    48.548

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)

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  • Enclosed Field with Ploughman

    October 1889
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    In May 1889 van Gogh checked into an insane asylum. This landscape belongs to a series of pictures based on the view from his barred window there. The scene is much as the artist described it in a letter to his brother, Theo, on August 30th: “…a field of yellow stubble that they are ploughing, the cut part of the ploughed earth with the strips of yellow stubble, background of hills.” The distant windmills, however, were an addition from van Gogh’s imagination, an indication that he painted the scene from memory several months later.

    Provenance

    1890, passed from the artist to his brother, Theo van Gogh (b. 1857 - d. 1891), Paris; 1891, probably by descent from Theo van Gogh either to his sister, Wilhelmina van Gogh, or to his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger (b. 1862 - d. 1925); 1894-95, possibly sold by Johanna van Gogh-Bonger to Emile Schuffenecker or Julien Moline [see note 1]. By 1920, to Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune, Paris [see note 2]; possibly sold by Bernheim-Jeune to Matthew Justice, Dundee, Scotland [see note 3]; by 1925, probably sold by Justice to William Boyd (b. about 1873 - d. 1941), Claremont, West Ferry (near Dundee); 1929, still with Boyd [see note 4]. 1936, Arthur Tooth and Sons, London; August 26, 1936, sold by Tooth to William A. Coolidge (b. 1901 - d. 1992), Topsfield and Cambridge, MA; 1993, bequest of William A. Coolidge to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 27, 1993) NOTES: [1] In "Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cassirer, Berlin" (Zwolle, 1988), Walter Feilchenfeldt suggests the painting belonged to the artist's sister, Wilhelmina van Gogh. In a letter of January 24, 1992 (in MFA curatorial file), Mr. Feilchenfeldt reverses his opinion, suggesting that the picture was, rather, sold by Johanna van Gogh-Bonger in 1894-95, either to Emile Schuffenecker or to Julien Moline. Subsequently, in a letter of January 13, 2003 (in MFA curatorial file) he reintroduces the possibility that it was in Wilhelmina's possession. [2] Letter from Guy-Patrice Dauberville, Bernheim-Jeune & Co. (March 20, 1992); it is not known when and how Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune acquired the painting, nor when and how it left their possession. Walter Feilchenfeldt (letter of January 13, 2003; cited above, n. 1) has suggested that the painting may have acquired by the Bernheim-Jeune family as early as before the turn of the twentieth century. The gallery exhibited the work in 1904 and 1908, though it is not known who owned it at the time. [3] Justice was a collector and art dealer. Madeleine Korn, "Collecting paintings by Van Gogh in Britain before the Second World War," Van Gogh Museum Journal, 2002, 134-35, cites a letter from A. J. McNeill Reid to Douglas Cooper (April 9, 1953) stating that Justice "went off to Bernheim-Jeune, got quite a few pictures on sale, bought a few more, and did a good deal of business with Boyd." [4] Korn 2002 (as above, n. 3), 134-35, states that Justice sold this painting to Boyd. According to information provided by Frances Fowle, to be published in "Van Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collectors" (Edinburgh, 2006), McNeill Reid commented in an earlier letter to Cooper (April 5, 1953) on "a couple of Van Goghs [Boyd] bought through Justice." Boyd lent the painting (then called "La Charrue" or "The Plow") to the "Loan Collection of Pictures, Centenary of the Norwich Museum" (Norwich Museum, October 24 - November 1, 1925), cat. no. 64 and to the Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh, 1929), cat. no. 354. However, Korn 2002 (as above, n. 3), 136, records the painting as being with C. E. Dix in 1928. She has suggested (verbally, December 14, 2005) that around this time it was with the dealer Arthur Tooth, implying that Tooth either sold it to or purchased it from Dix in 1928. This contradicts the evidence that Boyd owned it until at least 1929, and remains unconfirmed.

    Credit Line

    Bequest of William A. Coolidge

    Details

    Dimensions

    54.0 x 65.4 cm (21 1/4 x 25 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1993.37

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Not On View

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  • Ravine

    1889
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    In June 1889, shortly after his arrival at an asylum in the southern French town of Saint-Rémy, van Gogh painted a riotous study of a flowering hillside. He sent a pen-and-ink copy of the painting to his brother in early July. Months later, in October, the artist found himself without fresh canvas on which to paint and decided to sacrifice the study of wild vegetation to paint this view of the mountainous ravine near the asylum. Recent collaborative research by conservators and curators has revealed the presence of the lost painting beneath the Boston canvas. For more on this discovery, see: http://www.mfa.org/dynamic/sub/ctr_link_url_5023.pdf.

    Provenance

    1890, passed from the artist to his brother, Theo van Gogh (b. 1857 - d. 1891), Paris [see note 1]. By 1908, Prince Alexandre Berthier de Wagram (d. 1918), Paris. Barbazanges Art Gallery, Paris. By 1918, J. B. Stang, Oslo [see note 2]. 1926, Leicester Galleries, London [see note 3]. 1928, with Galerie Thannhauser, Lucerne and Berlin [see note 4]; 1928 or 1929, sold by Thannhauser to Keith McLeod, Boston [see note 5]; 1952, bequest of Keith McLeod to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 16, 1952) NOTES: [1] This painting can be identified with the "Ravine" sent by the artist to his brother in January of 1890. Paul Gauguin greatly admired the picture, and it is possible that Theo van Gogh exchanged it with him; Gauguin subsequently deposited his pictures with Chaudet and Amedée Schuffenecker, Paris, when he sailed for Tahiti. [2] Stang lent the picture to the exhibition "Den Franske Utstilling" (I Kunstnerforbundet, Oslo, January-February, 1918), cat. no. 102. [3] The painting was exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, November - December 1926, cat. no. 24. [4] A letter from Gilbert E. Fuller (signature illegible; author confirmed with the kind assistance of Monique Hageman) to Keith McLeod (August 26, 1928) in the MFA curatorial file discusses the Ravine, then in the possession of Thannhauser. He notes it had been brought from Lucerne. [5] The picture was lent by McLeod to the "First Loan Exhibition" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 8 - December 7, 1929, cat. no. 84.

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Keith McLeod

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    F662

    Dimensions

    73 x 91.7 cm (28 3/4 x 36 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    52.1524

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)

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    Europe

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    Pewter

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  • Houses at Auvers

    1890
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    In May 1890, van Gogh moved from the south of France to Auvers, northwest of Paris, painting many of his finest pictures there in a feverish spurt of activity before his suicide in July. Houses at Auvers shows the landscape of early summer. The view from above creates a flattened tapestry of shapes in which the tiled and thatched roofs of the houses form a mesmerizing patchwork of color.

    Provenance

    By 1905, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger (b. 1862 - d. 1925), Amsterdam; 1908, sold by Van Gogh-Bonger to the Moderne Kunsthandlung Franz Joseph Brakl, Munich. Probably Galerie Thannhauser, Munich. Voss collection, Berlin. 1926, Wildenstein and Co., New York; October 18, 1926, sold by Wildenstein to John Taylor Spaulding (b. 1870 - d. 1948), Boston; 1948, bequest of John Taylor Spaulding to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 3, 1948)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of John T. Spaulding

    Details

    Dimensions

    75.6 x 61.9 cm (29 3/4 x 24 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    48.549

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    Not On View

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  • Portrait of Dr. Gachet

    1890
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)

    Description

    Impression by Vincent van Gogh and Paul Ferdinand Gachet, or possibly Gachet alone (ref: S. van Heugten 1995.) 61 known impressions. Date: probably June 15.

    Inscription

    In graphite, l.l.: Vincent van Gogh; in red chalk, l.r.: L'homme à la pipe; in graphite, verso: Vincent van Gogh épreuve ancienne très rare Paul Gachet [signature]

    Provenance

    William G. Russell Allen (b. 1882 - d. 1955), Boston; bequest of W. G. Russell Allen to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 14, 1960)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of W. G. Russell Allen

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    de la Faille 1664

    Dimensions

    Platemark: 18 x 15 cm (7 1/16 x 5 7/8 in.) Sheet: 32.3 x 23.3 cm (12 11/16 x 9 3/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    60.393

    Medium or Technique

    Etching and drypoint, printed in red ink

    Not On View

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    Europe, Prints and Drawings

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    Prints

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