Vincent van Gogh (Dutch (worked in France), 1853–1890)
73 x 91.7 cm (28 3/4 x 36 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)
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.
January, 1890, sent by the artist to his brother, Theo van Gogh (b. 1857 - d. 1891), Paris [see note 1]; 1890, possibly exchanged by Theo van Gogh with Paul Gauguin (b. 1848 - d. 1903), Paris [see note 2]. By 1901, Amedée Schuffenecker (b. 1854 - d. 1936), Paris [see note 3]; probably sold by Schuffenecker to Philippe Alexandre Berthier, Prince de Wagram (b. 1883 - d. 1918), Paris; between 1909 and 1912, sold by Wagram to the Galerie Barbazanges, Paris [see note 4]. By 1918, Jorgen Breder Stang (b. 1874 - d. 1950), Oslo [see note 5]; by 1928, consigned by Stang to Galerie Thannhauser, Lucerne and Berlin [see note 6]; 1929, sold by Thannhauser to Keith McLeod, Boston [see note 7]; 1952, bequest of Keith McLeod to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 16, 1952)
 The MFA painting has been identified with the canvas of the "Ravine...the study" sent by the artist to his brother in January of 1890 (letter 834, January 3, 1890). It was included in the sixth exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, March 20 - April 27, 1890. A closely-related composition, now at the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, remained in the artist's possession at that time.
 After admiring the work at the Paris exhibition, Gauguin wrote to the artist, proposing an exchange for "the mountain landscape" and including a sketch of the Ravine (letter 859, March 20, 1890). It may be the "landscape in a mauve tonality" that Ambroise Vollard described as hanging over Gauguin's bed; see his Recollections of a Picture Dealer, trans. V. M. MacDonald (Mineola, NY, 1936; 2002), p. 174.
 Amédée Schuffenecker lent this painting to the exhibition “Vincent van Gogh,” Gallery Bernheim-Jeune (Paris, March 15-31, 1901). See Teio Meedendorp, "The Schuffenecker Brothers and the Prince of Wagram," in The paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, 1998), p. 418, n. 4.
 The Prince de Wagram lent the painting to“Quelques oeuvres de Vincent van Gogh” (Galerie Druet, Paris January 6 – 18, 1909), cat. no. 48. Between 1909 and 1912, he divested himself of his Van Gogh paintings. On the sale to Galerie Barbazanges, see Meedendorp 1998 (as above, n. 3), p. 419, n. 19.
 Stang lent the picture to the exhibition "Den Franske Utstilling" (I Kunstnerforbundet, Oslo, January-February, 1918), cat. no. 102. The painting was exhibited, presumably by Stang, at the Leicester Galleries, November - December 1926, cat. no. 24. By January 1929, when the dealer Jacques Seligmann visited the Stang collection, the Van Gogh ("Paysage de Provence") was listed as being in his possession but "chez Tannhauser."
 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 with Thannhauser. He notes it had been brought from Lucerne.
 McLeod lent the painting to the "First Loan Exhibition" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 8 - December 7, 1929, cat. no. 84.
Bequest of Keith McLeod