Van Gogh Painting That Has Been Hidden For Decades Goes On View At National Gallery In D.C.
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Van Gogh Painting That Has Been Hidden For Decades Goes On View At National Gallery In D.C.

A Vincent Van Gogh painting that has been
hidden away at a Virginia estate for decades will have a new home at the National Gallery
of Art. The rarely seen 1890 painting, “Green Wheat Fields, Auvers,” depicts a landscape
in bright greens and blues from northern France when Van Gogh was living just north of Paris
in Auvers-sur-Oise. The painting was given to the museum by philanthropist and art collector
Paul Mellon, and it has been kept in his family’s home in Upperville, Va., since 1955. It will
go on display Friday alongside five other Van Gogh paintings. The museum now holds nine
altogether. The painting has only been exhibited once before in the United States in a show
devoted to the Mellon collection in 1966 at the National Gallery of Art. The painting
spent its early years with Van Gogh’s brother Theo and then was traded in Germany. It was
shown in a major exhibition in Cologne, Germany, in 1912 and then in Berlin. But it has mostly
been out of view since the 1930s, said French paintings curator Mary Morton. The painting
was created while Van Gogh was struggling. He had cut off his earlobe on Christmas Eve
in 1888 and committed himself to an asylum in southern France a few months later before
he returned to northern France and turned to painting spectacular landscapes. “It’s
really one of the great landscapes of that moment. It is in very good condition,” Morton
said, adding that it retains the thick paint and expressive, emotional brush stokes that
Van Gogh became famous for. “This is why we love him so much.” It’s likely impossible
to pinpoint when this painting was created. It’s not dated. But it is part of a group
of paintings he likely completed in June or July of 1890 before his death in late July.
There’s no way to know what his final painting was, Morton said. While there are multiple
Van Gogh exhibitions around the world every year, this painting has never been part of
those. “What’s great about this picture is that it really is just a field painting. It’s
just about grass and wind and sky,” Morton said. “It’s very sort of pure in that sense.
There’s no story. There are no figures. There’s nothing to read. It’s just this feeling he
has while he’s out there, and he’s completely absorbed by the environment.”

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