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Portrait of Doctor Gachet

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Details
Oil on canvas
67.0 x 56.0 cm.
Auvers-sur-Oise: June, 1890
F 753, JH 2007

Private collection

History
Provenance
Exhibitions

Analysis
See below

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The Portrait of Doctor Gachet is one of Van Gogh's most famous paintings. It's notable for a number of reasons. It was painted in the last few months of Vincent's life and the subject has been the focus of a great deal of controversy. How competent was Doctor Gachet? What did Vincent mean when he wrote to Theo "First of all, he is sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much" (Letter 648)?

This portrait is also one of Van Gogh's most well known since it holds the distinction as the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. On 15 May 1990 The Portrait of Doctor Gachet was sold within three minutes for $82.5 million (U.S.) to Ryoei Saito, Japan's second-largest paper manufacturer. This record remains unbeaten, but an ironic footnote to this sale is the recent news that Christie's has purchased the work back from Mr. Saito for one-eighth the price he paid for it. This marks a dramatic change in the vitality of the Japanese art-buying community from its zenith in the 1980's.

In fact, Vincent did two portraits of Gachet: this and a companion piece (F 754). In his original catalogue raisonné, Jacob Baart de la Faille considered the work above to be the superior of the two, but the editors of the 1970 catalogue disagreed and maintained that both works were the product of comparable skill. Whatever the opinion, it's clear that this particular Gachet portrait has had the far more colourful history.

Note the plant on the table in front of Gachet. This is foxglove, from which the drug digitalis is derived. Some consider this to be a symbol for Gachet's profession or perhaps an indication that Van Gogh himself was being treated with digitalis while under Gachet's care.


Provenance

Owner

Location

Date acquired

Theo van Gogh

Paris

1890-91

Joanna van Gogh-Bonger

Amsterdam

1891

Ambroise Vollard

Paris

1897

Alice Ruben Faber

Copenhagen

1897

Mogens Ballin

Copenhagen

1897

Paul Cassirer Art Gallery

Berlin

1904

Harry Graf Kessler

Weimar

1904

Galerie Eugène Druet

Paris

1910

Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie

Frankfurt

1911

Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

Berlin

1937

Hermann Göring

Berlin

1938

Franz Koenigs

Amsterdam

1938

Siegfried Kramarsky

Amsterdam

1938

Ryoei Saito

Tokyo

1990

Private collection

 

 


Exhibitions

Year City Country Venue Exhibition Name Start Date End Date No.
1893 Copenhagen Denmark Den Frie Udstilling Fortegnelse over Kunstvœrkerne paa den Frie Udstilling 25 March 1893  
177
1896 Rotterdam Netherlands Kunstzalen Oldenzeel Vincent van Gogh: fransche periode  
 
8
1908 Paris (2) France Galerie Eugène Druet Quelques Oeuvres de Vincent van Gogh 6 January 1908 18 January 1908 21
1910-11 London United Kingdom Grafton Galleries Manet and the Post-Impressionists 8 November 1910 16 January 1911 73
1912 Frankfurt Germany Kunstverein Klassische Malerei Frankreichs im 19. Jahrhundert 18 July 1912 30 September 1912 64
1931 Frankfurt Germany Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie Vom Abbild zum Sinnibild 3 June 1931 3 July 1931 76
1941 New York United States Metropolitan Museum of Art Aspects of French Painting from David to Toulouse-Lautrec 6 February 1941 26 March 1941 67
1942 New York United States Paul Rosenberg Vincent van Gogh Masterpieces 5 January 1942 31 January 1942 9
1942 Baltimore United States Baltimore Museum of Art Paintings by Van Gogh 18 September 1942 18 October 1942 29
1942 Worcester United States Worcester Art Museum Paintings by Van Gogh 28 October 1942 28 November 1942 29
1943 New York (2) United States Wildenstein and Co. The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh. Loan Exhibition in Aid of American and Dutch War Relief 6 October 1943 7 November 1943 62
1944 Montreal Canada Art Association of Montreal Loan exhibition of Great Paintings. Five centuries of Dutch Art 9 March 1944 9 April 1944 140
1948 New York (2) United States Wildenstein and Co. Six masters of Post-Impressionsm 8 April 1948 8 May 1948 70
1948 Cleveland United States Cleveland Museum of Art Vincent van Gogh 3 November 1948 12 December 1948 30
1949-50 New York United States Metropolitan Museum of Art Vincent van Gogh Paintings and Drawings. A Special Loan Exhibition 21 October 1949 15 January 1950 149A
1950 Chicago United States Art Institute of Chicago Vincent van Gogh Paintings and Drawings. A Special Loan Exhibition 1 February 1950 16 April 1950 149A
1951 Houston United States Contemporary Art Museum Vincent van Gogh 4 February 1951 25 February 1951 20
1955 New York (2) United States Wildenstein and Co. Vincent van Gogh Loan Exhibition 24 March 1955 30 April 1955 72
1955 New York (3) United States Museum of Modern Art Paintings from Private Collections 31 May 1955 5 September 1955 51
1957 Los Angeles United States Municipal Art Gallery Vincent van Gogh. Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings 3 July 1957 4 August 1957 22
1958 New York (1) United States Metropolitan Museum of Art Paintings from Private Collections, Summer Loan Exhibition 1 July 1958 1 September 1958 67
1960 New York (2) United States Metropolitan Museum of Art Paintings from Private Collections, Summer Loan Exhibition 6 July 1960 4 September 1960 51
1965 New York (2) United States Wildenstein and Co. Olympia's Progeny: French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings 28 October 1965 27 November 1965 62
1967 Montreal Canada International Fine Arts Expo '67 Man and His World 28 April 1967 27 October 1967 28
1984-85 Copenhagen Denmark Ordrupgaard Gauguin og Van Gogh i Kobenhavn i 1893/Gauguin and van Gogh in Copenhagen in 1893 12 December 1984 10 February 1985  
1986-87 New York United States Metropolitan Museum of Art Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers 12 November 1986 22 March 1987 62
1990 Amsterdam Netherlands Van Gogh Museum Vincent van Gogh. Schilderijen 30 March 1990 29 July 1990 122

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