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Emile Bernard (1868-1941)
Emile Bernard (1868-1941)

Vincent van Gogh se rendant au motif à Asnières

Details
Emile Bernard (1868-1941)
Vincent van Gogh se rendant au motif à Asnières
oil on panel
5¾ x 3½ in. (14.7 x 9 cm.)
Painted in 1887
Provenance
Winkel & Magnussen, Copenhagen.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York (by 1957).
Acquired by the family of the previous owner, circa 1957.
Literature
J.-J. Luthi, Emile Bernard, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1982, p. 14, no. 71 (illustrated, p. 15).
Exhibited
Copenhagen, Winkel & Magnussen, Gauguin og hans venner, en Udstilling af Malerne som Dannede l'école de Pont-Aven, June-July 1956, p. 17, no. 21 (illustrated).
New York, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., Emile Bernard, February-March 1957, no. 15.

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Lot Essay

The present panel, one of the earliest recorded works by Bernard, depicts the precocious artist's friend and colleague, Vincent van Gogh. The two became acquainted in 1887 when Bernard invited the Dutchman to his parents' new residence in Asnières, just outside Paris. As Van Gogh's biographers, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, write of this fertile stay, during which the present work was executed: "In this plank-sided clubhouse, the friendless thirty-four-year-old Vincent fell immediately under the spell of the suave nineteen-year-old Bernard. They exchanged enthusiasms and perhaps canvases" (Van Gogh, The Life, New York, 2011, p. 549).

In its spare brushwork and diminutive wooden format, Vincent van Gogh se rendant au motif à Asnières shows the pronounced influence of the panel studies of another contemporary, Georges Seurat (fig. 1; De Hauke, no. 80), whose bathers at Asnières had shocked Paris three years before: "It was at Asnières, just outside Paris, that he first made a number of what he called 'croquetons,' sketches from nature brushed rapidly on the little wooden panels in his painter's box...The little panels dashed off with quick strokes provided the elements he needed for his composition; he had only to eliminate what was secondary, suppress what was superfluous, and refine his treatment of the details after profound reflection" (J. Rewald, Seurat, A Biography, New York, 1990, p. 51).

(fig. 1) George Seurat, L'homme assis, Etude pour "La Baignade à Asnières," circa 1883. The Cleveland Museum of Art.

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