Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The 4th Most Expensive Painting in the World

Vincent van Gogh painted four of the seven previous works on our bottom-to-top listing of the “10 most expensive paintings in the world.” A remarkable achievement by an artist who didn’t sell any paintings during his turbulent lifetime.

4. “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” by Vincent van Gogh, sold in 1990 for 82.5 million. Inflation-adjusted price $136.1 million.

Painted in June 1890 in Auyers-sur-Oise near Paris, the portrait depicts Doctor Paul Gachet who cared for Van Gogh during the artist's last months.

Just before painting it, van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, “Ah! portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come.

Dr. Gachet is shown sitting at a table and leaning his head onto his right arm. The oil painting measures 22 x 23 in. (67 × 56 cm).

Van Gogh did two portraits of Gachet, both with emphasis is on Gachet's melancholic disposition. In a letter to Theo, Van Gogh's first impression was that Gachet was “sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much.”

Despite his recurrent bouts of mental illness, the Dutch painter was neither the raving lunatic nor isolated recluse that many imagine. Van Gogh was quite popular and active in art circles, and well regarded by other artists of his day. A pioneer of Post-Impressionism, Van Gogh’s work influenced Abstract Expressionism the 1950s, and today he continues to exert a noticeable impact on new generation of artists.

The painting of Dr. Gachet became shrouded in mystery soon after it sold for a record auction price at Christie’s in 1990. The Australian- born financier who acquired it in 1997 later sold it to parties as yet unknown. The second version of the painting is at Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Previous Top-10 Listings:
5. “Moulin de la Galette“ by Pierre-Auguste Renior. Read more>
6. “Garçon à la Pipe” by Pablo Picasso. Read more>
7. “Irises” by Vincent van Gogh. Read more>
8. “Dora Maar au Chat” by Pablo Picasso. Read more>
9. “Portrait of Joseph Roulin” by Vincent van Gogh. Read more>
10. “Portrait de l’Artiste sans Barbe” by Vincent van Gogh. Read more>

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