A stunning still-life painting by the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh could realise £50m when it goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on 4 November. Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies (1890) is perhaps the most desirable Van Gogh to come to market in many years. It is a colourful rendition of a popular subject and extremely commercial.
Simon Shaw from the Impressionist and modern art department at Sotheby’s, points out that the work is ‘beautiful’ and ‘vibrant’, capturing ‘the intensity of the artist at the height of his mania, only weeks before his tragic end.’ He stated the Dutch artist’s early death meant his works were in ‘radically diminished supply’. He added: ‘Unlike Monet and Picasso, who were very productive artists with long, prolific careers, Van Gogh only painted for a very short time.’
”The painting has a storied history; the artist painted the work in 1890 at the house of his close friend Dr. Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise, and the work “presumably came immediately into his possession upon completion.” The artist settled in Auvers upon his release from the asylum at St.-Rémy-de-Provence in May of 1890. He rented a room at Ravoux Inn and spent his days in the fields painting as well as visiting with Dr. Gachet.
It is possible that Van Gogh gave the painting to Dr. Gachet as payment for medical services is not known, but at the time the artist was heavily dependent upon his brother Theo for money and art supplies. Eager to prove to his brother that he could make a living as an artist, Van Gogh was convinced his still lifes would sell well. Indeed Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies is one of the few works actually sold during his lifetime.
Sotheby’s has traced the provenance of the painting which was acquired by Impressionist collector Gaston-Alexandre Camentron, who later sold it to the Paul Cassirer Gallery in 1911. It remained with a series of private collectors in Germany until the mid-1920s when it went to New York via London. Collector and MoMA co-founder Anson Goodyear bought it through Knoedler Gallery in 1928. It was eventually gifted in part by the Goodyears to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, where it was on display for over 30 years before it was sold at the request of the family.