Vincent van Gogh is a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter and noted artist who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art history. In over a decade he created about 2,100 works of art, including about 860 oil paintings and several hundred sketches. However, he only managed to sell one painting during his lifetime — The red vineyards near Arles, sold for just 400 francs (about $2,000 today) at a Brussels exhibition in March 1890, four months before his suicide. The painting is now in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia. But how did it come about and what is special about it? Is it the only painting sold by? Van Gogh before his death?
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The story behind the art
The story goes as follows: Van Gogh came across a vineyard on October 28, 1888 during an afternoon walk with his painter friend Paul Gauguin. He later described the scene to his brother Theo in a letter, saying: “A red vineyard, all red like red wine. In the distance it turned yellow, and then a green sky with a sun, fields purple and sparkling yellow here and there after the rain reflecting the setting sun.”
Van Gogh was so moved by the scene he saw that he decided to paint it in his studio using his imagination. Gauguin played a crucial role in influencing Van Gogh’s painting style. He encouraged him to be more creative in his paintings with bright colors and less realistic looks. His use of color in his paintings is extreme and harsh. The vines are much redder than one would expect and what might appear to be a river is a road to the right of the composition, sparkling wet after recent rain. He uses different shades of yellow to represent the huge sun in the sky, creating an eerie yellow sky. The luminosity of the colors has of course diminished over time. The original painting would have been even more dramatic. Recent analysis has shown that Van Gogh made several changes to the painting – one of which is that the man standing in the street at upper right was originally a woman wearing a skirt, white blouse and hat. The woman on the far right of the road wears the traditional costume of the Arlésiennes, the famous lady of Arles. Analysts suspect that she represents Van Gogh’s friend Marie Ginoux, who ran the Café de la Gare with her husband, just a few doors down from the Yellow House, the artist’s home and studio.
The trip to Russia
The red vineyards near Arles has an interesting travel history. April 1889, Van Gogh sent his picture to his brother Theo, who was then living in Paris. It is said to have been a wedding present for his brother and his bride, Jo Bonger. However, a few months later Van Gogh asked his brother to send the painting to Brussels, where in January 1890 the artist was given the opportunity to exhibit some paintings at an event organized by the Les Vingt group. At that time, the Belgian painter Anna Boch bought it and kept it until 1907. Two years later the painting was acquired by a Moscow collector and textile manufacturer Ivan Morosov. The price had risen from 400 francs to 30,000 francs – an indication of Van Gogh’s increasing popularity. Morosov’s collection was nationalized in 1918. 1948 The red vineyards near Arles was among the works transferred to the Pushkin Museum.
Did Vincent van Gogh only sell one painting in his life?
That such a famous painter sold only one oil painting in his lifetime is a fact that is hard to believe. Even though Van Gogh Gaining popularity after his death, he was still a talking point in art circles in Europe. The myth that only one of his paintings will be sold has been debunked by leading Van Gogh scholar Marc Edo Tralbaut, author of “Vincent van Gogh, an authoritative and comprehensive biography of Van Gogh‘. Tralbaut claims Theo sold a self-portrait of the artist over a year before the sale The red vineyards near Arles. Van Gogh Museum claims the artist sold several paintings during his lifetime. Van Gogh’s uncle was an art dealer and to support his nephew’s career he commissioned 19 cityscapes of The Hague in the Netherlands. It is also said that Van Gogh traded his paintings for art supplies or food when he was young – something not common among young artists. According to Louis van Tilborgh, Chief Curator of the Van Gogh Museum, the artist also mentions in his letters that he sold a portrait to someone, but it is not known which portrait.
Art dealers and analysts had to rely heavily on the letters Vincent van Gogh exchanged with his brother Theo. This one source has not been sufficient in finding the truth behind the claim that he only sold one painting. It’s a well-known fact that not all artists thrive financially during their playing years. Despite several theories surrounding the artist, his remarkable work is still appreciated and celebrated around the world. Millions of people visit Moscow every year just to take a look The red vineyards near Arles Painting, and that alone proves how immortal art is.
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