Van Gogh and Gauguin’s letter on the brothel visit sells for 210,000 euros

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The letter was sold Tuesday in an auction house in Paris


A letter written by artists Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, detailing their visits to brothels, was sold at auction for € 210,600 ($ 236,632; £ 188,538).

The letter was purchased by the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation from the Drouot auction house in Paris on Tuesday.

The artists wrote the letter to their friend, the French painter Emile Bernard, in late 1888.

They describe living and working together in the French city of Arles.

Van Gogh and Gauguin, both world famous post-impressionist painters, believed they were leading a “great art renaissance,” the letter said.

The artists refined their artistic vision in Arles but, after spending several months together, their friendship ended acrimoniously and Gauguin left.

Dated and signed from November 1 to 2, 1888, the letter was written several weeks before Van Gogh suffered from psychological depression and cut his left ear.

The Dutch artist committed suicide in 1890.

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Van Gogh cut his ear after mental depression


The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where the letter will be on display later this year, said it was the only correspondence Van Gogh has ever had with another artist.

The museum described the letter as “the most important document written by Van Gogh that was still in private hands”.

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Van Gogh and Gauguin wrote the letter when they lived together in the south of France


The auction house, Drouot, said the letter was “exceptional” because of the artists’ certainty that their painting would revolutionize art.

Van Gogh and Gauguin, said the auction house, “were fully aware that their art marks a turning point and that only future generations will understand it.”

Van Gogh Museum Director Emilie Gordenker said she was “delighted” that the “important letter” had been acquired and could be displayed.

“We are delighted and very grateful that the Vincent van Gogh Foundation has allowed such a remarkable letter to be added to our collection, especially in these difficult times,” she said.

What does the letter say?

The artists take turns reporting on their stay in Arles, where they worked together in an apartment rented from the Maison Jaune.

“Now, something that will interest you – we have made a few trips to brothels, and it is likely that we will end up going there often to work,” wrote Van Gogh in the four-page letter.

“For the moment, Gauguin has a painting in progress of the same night cafe that I also painted, but with figures seen in brothels. It promises to become a beautiful thing. “

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While the letter was addressed to their friend, it was also a dialogue between Van Gogh and Gauguin, who gave their first impressions of working together.

In the letter, Van Gogh describes Gauguin as “a creature intact with the instinct of a wild beast.”

“With Gauguin, blood and sex have the advantage over ambition,” he added. “But enough of that, you saw it at your fingertips longer than I did, I just wanted to tell you the first impressions in a few words. ”

As of October 9, 2020, the letter will be one of 40 documents to be displayed at an exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

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