A rare painting by Dutch impressionist master Vincent van Gogh of a street scene in the Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre will be publicly displayed for the first time before its auction next month.
Sotheby’s auction house said the work, painted in 1887, has remained in the same family collection for more than 100 years—out of the public eye. It will be exhibited next month in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, and Paris ahead of an auction scheduled on March 25 in the French capital.
“It’s an important painting in the oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh because it dates from the period in which he’s living in Paris with his brother, Theo,” Etienne Hellman, senior director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby’s, told the Associated Press.
Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 and lived in Montmartre. He left the capital in 1888 for southern France, where he lived until his death in 1890.
“Before this, his paintings are much darker. . . . In Paris he discovers color,” Hellman said. “Color blows up into the painting.”
“Street Scene in Montmartre” depicts a windmill named the Pepper Mill, seen from the street under a bright sky, with a man, a woman and a little girl walking in front of wooden palisades that surrounded the place.
“Paris marks this period where . . . the major impressionists influence his work,” Hellman said.
Sotheby’s said the painting has been published in seven catalogues before but has never been exhibited. Claudia Mercier, auctioneer of Mirabaud Mercier house, said, “It is also an important painting because there are very, very few of them remaining in private hands . . . especially from that period, most are in museums now.”
Sotheby’s has estimated the painting’s value between 5 and 8 million euros (between US$6.1 and $9.8 million). It did not reveal the identity of the owner.
It will be on display in Amsterdam on March 1-3, Hong Kong on March 9-12, and Paris on March 16-23. The Pepper Mill was destroyed during the construction of an avenue in 1911, but two similar windmills are still present today on the Montmartre hill.