Vincent Van Gogh spent the early part of his career in the Netherlands where he painted iconic landscapes. One of those works, “Fishing Net Menders in the Dunes,” an early representation of his evolving style, is heading for the auction block. It’s expected to fetch up to $6 million.
The painting is on display in Paris and will be auctioned June 4. It will be the first Van Gogh to hit the market there in more than 20 years.
The painting is one of six inspired by the seaside around The Hague. Van Gogh painted there in 1882-83 when the artist was 29-years-old. The period marked his first two years of serious artistic work. Three of the paintings are in private collections and three are in museums.
Van Gogh went to The Hague to study with his cousin-in-law Anton Mauve, who funded a studio for the artist.
Under Mauve’s guidance Van Gogh began painting with oils in 1882. He was fascinated by working-class peasants and inspired by the works of Jean-François Millet and other artists of the period.
The painting’s significance is underlined by the fact that it has spent the past 25 years hanging in some of the world’s most prestigious art museums,
Auctioneer Bruno Jaubert told Reuters.
“Why? Because it is a painting which marks an important period in the development of Vincent Van Gogh. It’s the start of his career. And it’s when he discovers all the possibilities of painting, and notably how to create paintings in oil,” Jaubert said.
The work contains many elements that would later become emblematic of Van Gogh’s work, including heavy skies and crows, motifs which would resurface in his masterpiece “Wheatfield with Crows” in 1890.
In a letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh recounted the spectacle of female peasants moving round the fields, their heads covered in white cloths.
Van Gogh and Mauve later had a falling out, attributed to his relationship with alcoholic prostitute, Clasina Maria “Sien” Hoornik. In autumn 1883, after a year together, he left Sien and moved to the Dutch province of Drenthe ending his time in The Hague.