One of the few paintings by Vincent Van Gogh that is still in private hands, “Street Scene in Montmartre”, was sold for over 13 million euros at auction after auction after public exhibition for the first time, Sotheby’s said.
The painting – which appeared after a century spent in the same collection and has not been shown publicly since it was painted in 1887 – fetched 13.091 million euros ($ 15.414 million), Sotheby’s said.
Sotheby’s reached well over the estimate of 5-8 million euros and said that the sale price was a record for the artist in France.
The sale of the painting was the culmination of an auction of 33 works by masters including Degas, Magritte, Modigliani, Klee, Rodin and his mouse Camille Claudel which was sold in an auction live streamed by Sotheby’s in Paris.
The painting was offered again at the end of the sale in Paris after the auction house scrapped its first sale earlier in the afternoon – where it fetched a slightly higher selling price – due to problems with online bidding.
Other highlights were the sale of a recently restored work by Camille Pissarro, “La Recolte des pois”, which received 3.382 million euros. It had originally been ordered by Van Gogh’s brother Theo.
Francis Picabia’s “La Corrida” meanwhile raised 3.152 million euros.
First time on the show
The 1887 work of the Dutch post-Impressionist master, one of more than 200 paintings he produced during two years in Paris, shows one of the windmills that dotted Montmartre when it was still just a village on the northern outskirts of the capital.
A couple walks and two children play in front of a wooden fence and leafless trees depicted in the characteristic tan and brown tones of his “Dutch palette”, punctured by a bright red flag blowing above the mill.
The period marked a turning point in Van Gogh’s career as he began exploring expressionist techniques and new uses of color in the last years of his life, before his suicide in 1890 at the age of 37.
It is not considered one of his best works.
The last Van Gogh sold at a public auction, “Laborer in a Field” from 1889, went for $ 81 million at a sale in New York in 2017.
Specialists knew about the work but it was only cataloged as a black and white photograph and acquired by a French family around 1920.
It had been put out to public for the first time this week since it was painted 135 years ago.
“Paintings from the Montmartre series are rare: it is very likely to arouse a lot of interest from private buyers, the largest Van Gogh collectors around the world, and probably also from institutions,” said Aurelie Vandevoorde, Sotheby’s director of Impressionist and Modern Art. in Paris, told AFP before the sale.
The identity of the buyer has not been revealed.
Claudia Mercier, auctioneer at the Mirabaud Mercier auction house hired by the owner of the painting, said it had been examined by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, “which has shown great interest in the work”.