A Vincent van Gogh landscape painting which was seized by the Nazis during their Second World War occupation of France has sold at auction in New York for $35.9 million (£26.8 million), a new record for a watercolour by the Dutch impressionist.
Van Gogh completed his painting, ‘Mueles de ble’ in 1888, and last week it was purchased for well above its pre-sale estimate of $20-30 million (£15-22.4), according to auction house Christie’s.
The painting has not been seen exhibited to the public for over one hundred years – it was last shown in 1905.
The landscape watercolour ‘Mueles de ble’ depicts a haystack in Arles, France, where van Gogh resided for more than a year in the 1880s.
Unlike his best-known works, ‘Sunflowers’ and ‘The Starry Night’ which were both painted with oils, ‘Mueles de ble’ was executed in watercolour, gouache, pen and ink on paper.
After the troubled artist’s suicide at 37, the painting was transferred to his brother, Theo van Gogh, and after passing through several further owners, it was seized by Nazi forces during their occupation of France.
Following the war, the painting’s whereabouts were unclear until the 1970s. It was in private hands until Christie’s purchased the work through a settlement with the collector and heirs of the original owners.
Van Gogh is considered one of art’s greatest and most influential painters, although he saw little commercial success during his lifetime. However, fans of the Dutch artist are now able to attend an immersive van Gogh experience across the UK – in London and Leicester – and selected locations across the globe.
Thanks to cutting edge virtual projection, visitors will become a part of the spectacular, incomparable universe of van Gogh, with a unique immersive sound and light show.
The experience takes viewers on a journey of discovery through the life of the artist in a new way: from his time at the convent and in Arles to the secrets from the letters he wrote to his brother.