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Femme dans un jardin
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About the item

Femme dans un jardin was painted in 1887, a year after Van Gogh had moved to Paris. Shortly after his arrival in the French capital, Van Gogh was introduced to several of the most innovative artists working there, including Paul Signac, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard, who was the first owner of this work. Bernard (fig. 1) became Van Gogh’s trusted confidant and worked by his side during the summer of 1887. With the encouragement and company of his brother Theo, Van Gogh frequented the many cafés and taverns where he exchanged both ideas and canvases with his new circle of friends. The city also offered Van Gogh several opportunities to view the critically acclaimed works of its artistic celebrities, the Impressionists, whose paintings were most notably featured at their eighth and final group exhibition in 1886. Van Gogh rapidly absorbed all of the disparate artistic styles and techniques pioneered by the Parisian avant-garde, and quickly formulated his own highly distinctive pictorial language. This vibrant work is a testament to the unique and imaginative style he developed during his Paris years, and the lively palette he employed is a precursor to the explosion of colour that the brilliant light of the south of France would engender in his later paintings.\n\nWriting of the effect Paris had on the artist, John Rewald commented: ‘Van Gogh was now extremely eager to put to use all the new things he had learned. Gradually he abandoned the dark and earthy colors he had used in his early work […] In Paris his paintings not only became chromatically lighter, their mood also brightened’ (J. Rewald, Post-Impressionism, from Van Gogh to Gauguin, New York, 1956, p. 36). In this painting, Van Gogh has employed the abbreviated brushstrokes and hatched interweaving of colour often demonstrated in the landscapes that Signac executed around this time. This method of painting, favoured by the Post-Impressionists, was characterised by an emphatic and clearly delineated application of pigment. In the present work, as in Coin de prairie (fig. 2), Van Gogh used this technique to render the blades of grass and the crisp reds and yellows that speckle the canvas. The vibrant palette, which Van Gogh also used in another related work of 1887 titled Femme assise dans l’herbe (fig. 3), energises the picture, as does the presence of the figure who turns towards the viewer.\n\nThe setting of this scene is a Parisian public garden, one of the sites Van Gogh preferred to visit in the city and the surrounding area. He was often accompanied by Emile Bernard on these expeditions, during which both artists painted the same views such as Le Pont d’Asnières (fig. 4). Later Bernard recounted Van Gogh’s various methods for visually recording vignettes of his jaunts. According to Marc Edo Tralbaut, ‘Bernard has described how Vincent would set off with a large canvas on his back. When he reached the place where he was going to work, he would divide it up into compartments, one for each subject. By the evening the canvas was painted all over and looked like a miniature museum in which the events and emotions of the day were all separately recorded. There would be reaches of the Seine with boats, islands with blue swing-boats, a restaurant with coloured awnings decorated with oleanders, forgotten corners of the public gardens or houses that were up for sale… Emile Bernard, who knew these places well from his own solitary walks, remarked that ‘These fragments were lifted with the end of his brush and stolen, as it were, from the fleeting hour, and one can feel their poetry because they have been painted with the soul that experienced them’’ (M. E. Tralbaut, Vincent van Gogh, New York, 1969, p. 202).\n\nThe artist's painted red border which frames the present composition is particularly noteworthy. Until recently, scholars had believed that the only painting from the artist’s Paris period, apart from his copies of Japanese prints (fig. 4), to bear this distinct bordure was La Pêche au printemps of 1887 (J.-B. de la Faille, no. 354). The red border of the present work was at one time folded over the side of the stretcher and concealed by the frame, but has since been reincorporated into the composition. Femme dans un jardin, one of the first paintings in Van Gogh’s œuvre to bear this highly innovative framing design, is important to understanding Van Gogh’s truly avant-garde painting style during this period. As Louis van Tilborgh has noted in the catalogue of an exhibition devoted to this subject: ‘Such coloured borders were designed to reinforce the colouristic composition of the scene, but they also had the effect of emphasizing the subject […] In this respect, [Van Gogh] was ahead of his colleagues, for at that time Seurat was not yet painting borders around his pictures’ (L. van Tilborgh in In Perfect Harmony: Picture and Frame, 1850-1920, op. cit., p. 166).\n\nFig. 1, Photograph of the painter Emile Bernard, the first owner of the present work, and Vincent van Gogh, Asnières, 1886 or 1887\nFig. 2, Vincent van Gogh, Coin de prairie, 1887, oil on canvas, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo\nFig. 3, Vincent van Gogh, Femme assise dans l’herbe, 1887, oil on canvas, Private Collection\nFig. 4, Vincent van Gogh, Japonaiserie, 1887, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
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medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Vincent van Gogh

dimensions

51 by 62.5cm.

exhibition

Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Van Gogh à Paris, 1988, no. 35, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

literature

Jacob-Baart de la Faille, L'Œuvre de Vincent van Gogh, catalogue raisonné, Paris & Brussels, 1928, vol. I, no. 368, catalogued p. 103; vol. II, no. 368, illustrated pl. CI Jacob-Baart de la Faille, Vincent van Gogh, Paris, 1939, no. 291, illustrated p. 222 Jacob-Baart de la Faille, The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings, Amsterdam, 1970, no. 368, illustrated p. 172 Paolo Lecaldano, Tout l'œuvre peint de Van Gogh, Paris, 1971, vol. I, no. 376, illustrated p. 114 Jan Hulsker, The Complete van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, New York, 1980, no. 1262, illustrated p. 282 Ingo F. Walther & Rainer Metzger, Vincent van Gogh. Sämtliche Gemälde, Cologne, 1989, vol. I, illustrated in colour p. 247 Giovanni Testori & Luisa Arrigoni, Van Gogh, catalogo completo dei dipinti, Florence, 1990, no. 381, illustrated p. 171 In Perfect Harmony: Picture and Frame, 1850-1920 (exhibition catalogue), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 1995, illustrated in colour p. 167 Jan Hulsker, The New Complete Van Gogh. Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, Amsterdam & Philadelphia, 1996, no. 1262, illustrated p. 282

provenance

Emile Bernard, Paris Galerie Ambroise Vollard, Paris C. Hoogendijk, The Hague (sale: Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, 21st May 1912, lot 6 (incorrectly attributed to Gustave Caillebotte)) Galerie Ambroise Vollard, Paris M. Gieseler, The Hague (sale: A. Mak & Cie., Amsterdam, 11th May 1926, lot 41) Frans Buffa & Zonen, Amsterdam C. W. Kraushaar Art Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in 1926) Mrs Esther Slater Kerrigan, New York (acquired from the above in 1927; sale: Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 8th January 1942, lot 48) Edward J. Bowes, New York Ann B. Warner, Los Angeles Richard L. Feigen & Co., New York (acquired from the above in 1986) Robert Carmel, New York (acquired from the above on 10th March 1986; sale: Christie's, New York, 13th November 1996, lot 31) Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

time_period

Painted in Paris in the early summer 1887.

creator_nationality_dates

1853 - 1890


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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