“A great stretch in the dunes, the morning after the rain. The grass is very green – and the nets black-and deploy them in circles to be huge, creating on the floor of the deep tones, a black, green, grey or reddish. On this dark floor, women in headdresses and white, and men”… “coming and going as the strange shadows stretched or mending their nets.”… “On top of this landscape a simple grey sky with a clear band on the horizon.”

Thus described by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) in a letter to his brother Theo, the austere landscape of “Raccommodeuses of nets in the dunes” is taken on the ground, between two showers, in the month of August, 1882. At the time, Van Gogh devoted himself to painting for two years only. So, it is a youthful work. But his genius is already proving to. If the palette is still dark, away from shades solar characteristics of its maturity, the pattern of the crows flying in a sky tormented is present, that one will find, a lot more pushy and threatening, on one of his last paintings, the famous “wheat Field with crows”, painted in Auvers in 1890.

Exposed, since 2009, on the picture rails of the museum Van Gogh of Amsterdam, these “Raccommodeuses of nets in the dunes” were offered at auction on an estimate of 3/5 M€, on 4 June, during the sale of impressionist and modern art, Artcurial. This is an event. In fact, never a major work of Van Gogh was no output on the parisian market since more than twenty years, the last tender going back to 1992 (1). A “Garden in Auvers”, dating from 1890, was sold for 55 MF at Binoche & Godeau.

Paul Gauguin and Fernand Léger also to the poster

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), with whom Van Gogh developed a friendship stormy, the summer in Arles, is also featured in this sale, with five works from the collection Favre-Tessier. The most captivating is without a doubt the portrait of Claude Antoine Favre, dating back to 1877. Estimated 180/250, 000 euros, this very expressive portrait of a young man, where we find the influence of Gustave Courbet, a testament to the indestructible bond between the painter and Claude Favre, said “The Porpoise”, met aboard Desaix, where Gauguin was a sailor. Friendship is translated in practice by the financial support given to the painter – “The Porpoise that has not broke is through, however, help me” note Gauguin. Painted in 1876, “Le port de Javel” shows an urban landscape full of sorrow, under a sky streaked the black smoke of factory chimneys. This small canvas, depicting with realism the evolution of the city in the industrial era, is estimated 180/250, 000 euros.

Paul Gauguin. Portrait of Claude Antoine Charles Favre, 1877Huile on canvas, 45,50 x 38cmEstimation : 180 000 – 250 000 € / 225 000 – 310 000 $


The program of this sale also included the collection of André Lejard, Director of the magazine Arts et Métiers graphiques, which contains an important ensemble of works by Fernand Léger (1881-1955).

Next to the drawings, a “Composition in the trunk of a tree”, is announced 15/20, 000 euros. Dated 1930, this study of tree bark, the mysterious arrangement of shapes tangled, announces a major painting executed the following year, “tree trunks”. The highest evaluation is related to a “Composition in blue vase”, 1937, which could be up to 1 300 000 euros. On this nature morte treated so monumental a large flower stylish skirts an ornamental motif resembling a drilled stone and a bouquet of flowers in a blue vase. This frieze is punctuated by different elements with no link between them clearly evokes the art on the wall. “Here we see a pediment or tympanum, such as Fernand Léger would create a mosaic in the following years, analysis Serge Lemoine, the cultural advisor to Artcurial. The flower, as for it, will be transposed into ceramics to monumental scale, in 1952.” This great “Flower power” deploys today its petals in the gardens of the museum Fernand Léger of Biot.

(1) The table Raccommodeuses of nets in the dunes has been awarded 7 065 000 € charges included on the 4 June. It is a world record for a landscape of the Dutch period Van Gogh at auction.

Read our complete file

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Fernand Léger, Nature morte (still life in blue vase, 1937, collection André LejardHuile on canvas, 65 x 92 cmEstimation : 900 000-1 300 000€ / 1 120 000 – 1 240 000 $


(1) The table Raccommodeuses of nets in the dunes has been awarded 7 065 000 € charges included on the 4 June. It is a world record for a landscape of the Dutch period Van Gogh at auction.


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