Lot 17
  • 17

Vincent van Gogh

30,000,000 - 50,000,000 USD
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  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Nature morte, Vase aux marguerites et coquelicots
  • Oil on canvas
  • 26 by 20 1/8 in.
  • 66 by 51 cm


(probably) Dr. Paul Gachet, Auvers-sur-Oise

Gaston Alexandre Camentron, Paris

Paul Cassirer, Berlin (acquired from the above in November 1911) 

Antoine Albert, Wiesbaden (acquired in 1914)

Mrs. A. Albert, Munich (widow of the above; acquired in 1918)

Georg Caspari, Munich

M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., London (acquired on April 24, 1926)

James Carstairs, Philadelphia (acquired in December 1926)

M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired in October 1928)

Anson Conger Goodyear, Long Island, New York (acquired in October 1928)

George F. Goodyear, Buffalo, New York (acquired by decent from the above in December 1941)

Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York  (acquired in part from the above)

Acquired by the present owner from the Goodyear family in 1991


Berlin, Paul Cassirer, Vincent van Gogh, 1914, lot 27a

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne-Gauguin-Seurat-van Gogh, 1929,  illustrated pl. 92

Buffalo, Albright Art Gallery, Catalogue of Exhibition Commemorating the Twenty Fifth Anniversary: An International Group of Paintings of Flowers, 1930, no. 67 (titled Flowers-Still Life)

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Modern Works of Art: Fifth Anniversary Exhibition, 1934-35, no. 15 (titled Poppies)

New York, The Museum of Modern Art ; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; Cleveland, Museum of Art; San Francisco, Palace of the Legion of Honor; Kansas City, The William Rochill Nelson Gallery of Art; Minneapolis, The Institute of Arts; Chicago, The Art Institute; Detroit, Institute of Arts; New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Vincent van Gogh, 1936-37, no. 14 (titled Poppies)

Washington, D.C., The Washington Gallery of The Museum of Modern Art, Flowers and Fruits, 1938, no. 22 (titled Poppies)

Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings, Prints Collected by A. Conger Goodyear, 1966, no. 16 (titled Flowers of the Fields)

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Paintings from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 1968, illustrated in the catalogue

Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, on long-term exhibition, 1962-90


Julius Meier-Graefe, Vincent van Gogh, Munich, 1918, illustrated p. 11 (titled Blumenstrauss)

Jacob-Baart de la Faille, L’Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh, Paris and Brussels, 1928, vol. I no. 280, catalogued p. 82; vol. II, illustrated pl. 77 (dated incorrectly Epoque de Paris)

“Fruits & Flowers: Spring in the Capital,” The Art News, New York, April 2, 1938, illustrated p. 11 (titled Poppies)

Jacob-Baart de la Faille, The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Painting and Drawings, Amsterdam, 1970, no. 280 , pp 309 and 622 illustrated, p. 308 (titled Still life Vase with Daises and Poppies)

Paul Aletrino, Tout van Gogh, 1888-1890, La Peinture, Paris, 1982, no. 67, illustrated p. 80 (titled Fleurs de Champs)

Alain Mothe, Vincent van Gogh à Auvers-sur-Oise, Paris, 1987, illustrated in color p. 81

Walter Feilchenfeldt, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cassirer, Berlin, The Reception of van Gogh in Germany from 1902-1913, Amsterdam, 1988, illustrated p. 86 (titled Still life: Vase with Daises and Poppies)

Ingo Walter & Rainer Metzger, Vincent van Gogh, The Complete Paintings, Cologne, 1990, illustrated p. 661 

Jan Hulsker, The Complete van Gogh, Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, New York, 1996, no. 2032, illustrated p. 466 

The Real Van Gogh, The Artist and his Letters (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2010, discussed p. 272

Walter Feilchenfeldt, Vincent van Gogh, The Years in France, Complete Paintings 1886-1890, London, 2013, illustrated in color p. 250



The work is in excellent condition. Original canvas. The turnover and tacking edges have been strengthened with a thin strip-lining. Under UV light, very minimal impainting is visible: small vertical lines approximately 4cm from the right framing edge, a tiny spot on the left framing edge and one small and one more small spot just above the bottom framing edge. Otherwise excellent condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Teeming with visual drama and emotion, Van Gogh's richly-colored bouquet of wildflowers exemplifies the creative genius of the artist at the culmination of his career.  Depicting a bounty of sensory splendor from the fields of Auvers, this important picture captures the artist at the height of his mania and only weeks before his tragic end.  It was during this period that Van Gogh painted the most powerful pictures of his career, including his legendary Portrait of Dr. Paul Gachet and Wheat Fields with Crows.  An expressive masterwork, Nature morte, Vase aux marguerites et coquelicots transcends the boundaries of its genre and offers an insightful psychological profile.

The present composition was painted in mid-June 1890 in Auvers-sur Oise, the town where the artist settled following his release from the asylum at St-Rémy in May 1890. "Auvers is very beautiful, among other things a lot of old thatched roofs, which are getting rare...really it is profoundly beautiful, it is the real country, characteristic and picturesque" (Letter 635).  Renting a small room at the Auberge Ravoux, he lacked a proper studio, which compelled him to go elsewhere to paint. He spent his days setting up his easel in the fields to paint the lush countryside, or visiting his physician, Dr. Paul Gachet.  The artist described his new living situation with enthusiasm, especially the close kinship he felt with the "rather eccentric"  art collector, Dr. Gachet, who offered him a quiet environment in which he could work.  As he told Theo in one of his first letters after meeting the doctor in late May, Gachet's house was filled with black antiques as well as Impressionist paintings including " two fine flower pieces by Cézanne."   Van Gogh found Gachet's environment so inviting that he pledged to "... gladly, very gladly, do a bit of brushwork here" (LT635).  Over the coming weeks, Van Gogh would paint his celebrated portrait of Dr. Gachet, along with several views of his flower garden and members of his family.    

The present work was painted at Gachet's house and probably came into his possession upon completion.   Van Gogh was inspired by the many objects that Gachet collected, including one particular Cézanne still-life that hung on Gachet's wall.  In that picture, the rounded edge of the table top and general arrangement can be likened to that of the present work.  On June 4, he told Theo that despite the clutter of the Gachet's accomodations, "there is always something for arranging flowers in or for a still life.   I did these studies for him to show him that if it is not a case for which he is paid in money, we will still compensate him for what he does for us."  The present work was one of the few works that Van Gogh sold or traded during his lifetime, and it was possibly given to Gachet in exchange for treatment.  Looking at this picture, we can imagine the artist traipsing through the fields on his way to Gachet's, gathering up armfuls of poppies, daisies, cornflowers and sheaves of wheat to squeeze into one of the modest vases in Gachet's antique-filled house. Indeed, several days later, the artist began work on the present composition as well as another painting, featuring the same earthenware vase.  Writing on June 16, he explained "At the moment I am working on two studies, one a bunch of wild plants, thistles, ears of wheat and sprays of different kinds of leaves -- the one almost red, the other bright green, the third turning yellow" (letter no. 642).   While his description most certainly applies to Still life, Vase with Field Flowers and Thistle (F. 763), the catalogue raisonné identifies the present work as being painted contemporaneously on June 16-17.  In comparison with the more reserved and academic still-lifes that he had completed in Paris in the mid-1880s, the present work evidences the dramatic shift in the artist's painterly style, now characterized by nfrenetic energy. "I am working a good deal and quickly these days," the artist wrote June 13,"in do doing, I seek to express the desperately swift passing away of things in modern life" (Letter W23).

As noted in a recent biography of the artist, Van Gogh was flooded by anxiety in Auvers, and his agitation surely spilled over onto even his most optimistic canvases:  "It was a beautiful, alluring vision -- as much as paint and works could make it.  But real life for Vincent in Auvers was anything but idyllic.  He had arrived in May holding on to the thinnest thread:  terrified by the possiblity of another attack, still racked with guilt over the money diverted from Theo's new family, haunted by the stacks of unsold paintings in Paris.  He poured his despair into a letter so bleak that he didn't dare to mail it:  'I am far from having reached any kind of tranquility...  I feel a failure ... a lot that I accept and that I will not change ....  The prospect grows darker, I see no happy future at all'" (Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith, Van Gogh, The Life, New York, 2011, p. 838).  It is under this black cloud of despair, using flowers from the same fields in which he would attempt to take his own life only weeks later, that the artist painted this extraordinary composition.

It is probable that Gachet either sold or faciliated the sale of this painting to Gaston Alexandre Camentron, the collector of Impressionist pictures, who eventually sold the picture to Paul Cassirer in 1911.  The picture remained with a series of private collectors in Germay until the mid-1920s, when it made its way to London and eventually across the Atlantic, where it was one of the first pictures by the artist to be sold in the United States.  In 1928, it was sold by the Knoedler Gallery in New York in 1928 to A. Conger Goodyear. Known as one of the principal founders of the Museum of Modern Art, Goodyear kept this work in his family's private collection.  It was eventually gifted by the Goodyear family in part to the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, where it was on display to the public for over thirty years.