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National Gallery of Art Acquires works by Vincent van Gogh, Winslow Homer, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat and others

May 24, 2014
Vincent van Gogh, Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves, 1889, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves, 1889, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

According to a press announcement, the National Gallery of Art has acquired more than five dozen French and American works of art from the estate of long time benefactor Paul Mellon, following the death of his widow Rachel “Bunny” Mellon on March 17, 2014.

From the announcement:

A highlight of the bequest is another major painting by Van Gogh: Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves (1889). Currently undergoing conservation treatment, the painting will be on view June 7 in the Gallery’s West Building, French Galleries, with Van Gogh’s renownedThe Postman Joseph Roulin (1889), on loan from the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands.

Still Life with Bottle, Carafe, Bread, and Wine (c. 1862–1863) by Claude Monet is an intimate painting of a subject not usually associated with the artist. One of Monet’s earliest known paintings, the Mellons’ purchase of this work reflects their thoughtful and deeply personal approach to collecting art.

The Riders (c. 1885) by Edgar Degas depicts a group of jockeys on horseback, a subject favored by both Degas and Paul Mellon, a renowned racing enthusiast. This large, vibrantly colored canvas is an extraordinary complement to the many Degas waxes and drawings on the same subject, donated by Paul Mellon in his lifetime. The Gallery has the world’s third largest collection of works by Degas and, thanks to Mellon, the world’s greatest collection of this artist’s sculpture made during his lifetime.

Twelve exquisite oil sketches by Georges Seurat join four paintings and one drawing in the Gallery’s permanent collection. “Seurat died young and his body of work is relatively small compared to his impressionist and post-impressionist counterparts,” said Kimberly A. Jones, associate curator of French paintings. “These new works vastly enhance our holdings and position the Gallery as one of the strongest collections of his work in the United States.”

Among the nine American paintings in the bequest, two works by Winslow Homer—The Flirt(1874), a study for the Gallery’s Breezing Up, and School Time (c. 1874)—constitute especially important additions to the collection. A significant group of still lifes—two remarkable works by Raphaelle Peale and three by John Frederick Peto—strengthen the Gallery’s holdings in that genre. The bequest also included a major group of seven Homer drawings and watercolors, the most notable being Rustic Courtship (1874) and The Berry Pickers (1873), as well as a rare pastel on canvas by William Merritt Chase, Gathering Flowers, Shinnecock, Long Island (c. 1897).

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