Lot 2
  • 2

Vincent van Gogh

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 USD
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  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Jardin public à Arles
  • Pen and ink on paper
  • 5 1/4 by 6 1/2 in.
  • 13.3 by 16.5 cm


Theo van Gogh, Paris (the artist's brother)

Lutz Art Gallery, Berlin

Dr. Gottlieb Friedrich Reber, Barmen

Max Silberberg, Breslau (spoilated by the German Government in the 1930s)

Sale: Paul Graupe & Cie, Berlin, Gemälde und Zeichnungen des 19. Jahrhunderts aus einer bekannten schlesischen Privatsammlung und aus verschiedenem Privatbesitz, March 23, 1935, lot 38 (as Parkskizze)

William A. Coolidge, London & Boston

Mrs. Edward Gage, London (sold: Sotheby's, London, December 3, 1958, lot 47)

Private Collection, Europe (acquired at the above sale)

European Foundation (a bequest from the above and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 13, 1997, lot 105)

Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman


Paris, Galerie A. Vollard, Paintings and Drawings by Vincent van Gogh, 1896-97

London, The Leicester Galleries, Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture and Prints by Modern Artists, 1936, no. 165

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Van Gogh in Arles, 1984, no. 107, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Alfred Vallette, Mercure de France, 1894, no. 57, illustrated p. 21

Vincent van Gogh, Lettres de Vincent van Gogh à Émile Bernard, Paris, 1911, illustrated pl. LIII

Jacob Baart de la Faille, L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 3, Paris & Brussels, 1928, no. 1465, catalogued pp. 141-142; vol. 4, illustrated pl. CLX

Jacob Baart de la Faille, The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings, New York, 1970, no. F. 1465, illustrated p. 511

Charles Millard, 'A Chronology of Van Gogh's Drawings', Master Drawings, vol. XII, 1974, no. 2, discussed pp.156-165 and illustrated p. 161

Jan Hulsker, The Complete van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, New York, 1980, no. 1583, illustrated p. 363 (titled Round Clipped Shrub in the Public Garden)

Ronald Pickvance, Van Gogh in Arles (exhibition catalogue), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1984, illustrated in color p. 181

Johannes van der Wolk, Ronald Pickvance & E.B.F. Pey, Vincent van Gogh: Drawings (exhibition catalogue), Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, 1990, illustrated p. 238

Jacob Baart de la Faille, Vincent van Gogh, the Complete Works on Paper, Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1992, vol. I, no. F. 1465, catalogued pp. 141-142, p. 381; vol. II, illustrated pl. CLX

Jan Hulsker, The New Complete van Gogh Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, Philadelphia, 1996, no. 1583, illustrated p. 363, (as Round Clipped Shrub in the Public Garden)

Ronald Pickvance, Van Gogh (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 2000, illustrated in color p. 80

Van Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collectors (exhibition catalogue), Compton Gallery, London & Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, 2006, illustrated in color p. 122

Van Gogh and Expressionism (exhibition catalogue), Neue Galerie, New York, 2007, illustrated in color p. 2007

Der Expressionistische Impuls: Meisterwerke aus Wuppertals grossen Privatsammlungen (exhibition catalogue), Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, 2008, illustrated in color p. 109

Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten & Nienke Bakker, eds., Vincent van Gogh, The Letters, The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition, Volume 4: Arles, 1888-1889, London, 2009, illustrated in color p. 289 (illustration is reversed)


Please contact the Impressionist and Modern Art Department at (212) 606-7360 for the condition report for this lot.
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

The subject of this drawing is the public garden in the Place Lamartine which Van Gogh could see from the Yellow House. In his comments on another drawing from the same series Ronald Pickvance made the observation that "the feathery round bulk, prominently placed in the small garden, was to attract Van Gogh more than any other single natural form during his stay in Arles. It recurs in some ten paintings and drawings (including those done in letters)" (R. Pickvance, Van Gogh in Arles [exhibition catalogue], The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1984, p. 64). In the first paintings of the garden done in July, Garden with Weeping Tree (de la Faille 428 - Private Collection, Zurich), the trees and bushes are pushed to the edges, placing the emphasis on "the lawn just cut with long trails of hay drying in the sun" (Letter to Theo 508). Van Gogh painted another view of the garden in September, Public Garden with Weeping Tree: Poet's Garden (de la Faille 468 - The Art Institute of Chicago). In this painting van Gogh intensified the colors, inspired by the realization that he was seeing the same cypresses and meadows that Petrarch had seen in Avignon.

The present drawing is a study for the latter and was enclosed in a letter to Theo Van Gogh written on September 17, 1888. He described the composition at length in this letter: "Since seven o'clock this morning I have been sitting in front of something which after all is no great matter, a clipped round bush of cedar or cypress growing amid grass. You already know this clipped round bush, because you have had a study of the garden. Enclosed is also a sketch of my canvas, again a square size 30. The bush is green, touched a little with bronze and various other tints. The grass is bright, bright green, malachite touched with citron, and the sky is bright, bright blue. The row of bushes in the background are all oleanders, raving mad; the blasted things are flowering so riotously they may well catch locomotor ataxia. They are loaded with fresh flowers, and quantities of faded flowers as well, and their green is continually renewing itself in fresh, strong shoots, apparently inexhaustibly. A funeral cypress is standing over them, and some small figures are sauntering along a pink path. This makes a pendant to another size 30 canvas of the same spot, only from a totally different angle, in which the whole garden is in quite different greens, under a sky of pale citron. But isn't it true that this garden has a fantastic character which makes you quite able to imagine the poets of the Renaissance, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, strolling among these bushes and over the flowery grass? It is true that I have left out some trees, but what I have kept in the composition is really there just as you see it. Only it has been overcrowded with some shrubs which are not in character. And to get at that character, the fundamental truth of it: that's three times now that I've painted the same spot. It happens to be the garden just in front of my house. But this corner of the garden is a good example of what I was telling you, that to get at the real character of things here, you must look at them and paint them for a long time. Perhaps you will see nothing from the sketch except that the line is now very simple. This picture is again painted very thickly, like its pendant with the yellow sky." There is another drawing of the same site much more schematic in van Gogh's letter of October 2 to Eugène Bloch (letter 553 B). Although smaller than the other four drawings of the public garden, the present sheet is densely worked and displays the full range of Van Gogh's graphic signs.

A Park in Arles was once in the collection of Max Silberberg (1878-1942), an industrialist based in Breslau and the owner of one of the finest pre-war collections of 19th and 20th century art in Germany.  Alongside other magnificent examples of classic French Impressionism by Manet, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley, Silberberg also collected masterpieces of Realism and Post-Impressionism including several works by Delacroix and Courbet alongside paintings by Cézanne and Van Gogh.  A prominent member of the community and a generous patron of Jewish causes, by 1935 Silberberg was forced to relinquish his public roles, his company was Aryanised and sold, and his house was acquired by the S.S.  His wonderful collection, including the present work, was sold off at auction in Berlin.  Presently, this drawing is sold with the benefit of a settlement agreement between the heir of Max Silberberg and the current owner that ensures clear title will pass to the buyer.