Overview

Roses was painted shortly before Van Gogh's release from the asylum at Saint–Rémy. He felt he was coming to terms with his illness—and himself. In this healing process, painting was all–important. During those final three weeks of his recovery, he wrote his brother Theo, he had "worked as in a frenzy. Great bunches of flowers, violet irises, big bouquets of roses..."

This is one of two rose paintings Van Gogh made at that time. It is among his largest and most beautiful still lifes, with an exuberant bouquet in the glory of full bloom. Although he sometimes assigned certain meanings to flowers, Van Gogh did not make a specific association for roses. It is clear, though, that he saw all blossoming plants as celebrations of birth and renewal—as full of life. That sense is underscored here by the fresh spring green of the background. The undulating ribbons of paint, applied in diagonal strokes, animate the canvas and play off the furled forms of flowers and leaves. Originally, the roses were pink—the color has faded—and would have created a contrast of complementary colors with the green. Such combinations of complements fascinated Van Gogh. The paint is very thick—so thick that both rose paintings were left behind when Van Gogh left Saint–Rémy on May 16, 1890. As he explained to Theo, "these canvases will take a whole month to dry, but the attendant here will undertake to send them off after my departure." They arrived in Auvers by June 24.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Paul Gallimard [1850-1929], Paris, 1905.[1] In the private collection of Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, from at least 1917;[2] sold 1929 to (Alex Reid & Lefèvre, London).[3] acquired 1929 by W. Averell Harriman;[4] Mr. and Mrs. W. Averell Harriman, New York; gift 1991 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1904
Paul Cassirer, Berlin, December 1904, no cat.
1908
Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, January 1908, no. 76.
1917
Französische Kunst des XIX. und XX. Jahrhunderts, Kunsthaus, Zürich, 1917, no. 111.
1925
Les Grandes influences au dix-neuvième siécle (d'Ingres à Cezanne). Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Paris, 1925, no. 8, as Roses carolines.
1926
Trente ans d'art indépendant 1884-1914, Sociéte des artistes indépendants, Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, Paris, 1926, no. 2957.
1927
Galerie d'art Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1927, no cat.
1929
Exposition de Peintures de l'École Impressionniste et Néoimpressionniste, Lucerne, 1929, no. 24.
1929
Ten Masterpieces of 19th Century French Painting, Alex Reid & Lefevre, Glasgow, 1929.
1930
Exhibition Commemorating the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Opening of the Albright Art Gallery, The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, 1930, no.66, repro.
1930
Opening Exhibition, Marie Harriman Gallery, New York, 1930, no. 10.
1931
Still Life, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 1931, no. 18.
1932
"Flowers" by French Painters XIX-XX Centuries, M. Knoedler and Co., New York, 1932, no. 17, repro.
1933
A Century of Progess Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933, no. 386.
1936
Vincent van Gogh, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1936. no. 58, repro.
1939
Modern French Masters, Marie Harriman Gallery, New York, 1939, no. 15.
1939
The Sources of Modern Painting, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (organized by The Institute of Modern Art, Boston); Wildenstein & Co., New York, 1939, no. 73 (Boston) and no. 49 (New York), repros., as White Roses.
1940
Masterpieces of Art. European & American Painting 1500-1900, New York World's Fair, 1940, no. 363, repro.
1942
Paintings by van Gogh, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Worcester Art Museum, 1942, no. 27, repro.
1943
The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh: Loan Exhibition in Aid of American and Dutch War Relief, Wildenstein, New York, 1943, no. 58, repro.
1953
Collectors' Choice: Masterpieces of French Art from New York Private Collections, Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, 1953, no. 13, repro.
1954
Magic of Flowers in Painting, Wildenstein, New York, 1954, no. 28, repro.
1955
Albany Institute of History and Art, 1955, no cat.
1955
Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Public Education Association, Wildenstein, New York, 1955, no. 69, repro.
1959
Masterpieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
1960
Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Collected by Yale Alumni: An Exhibition, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 1960, no. 71, repro., as Les Roses.
1961
Exhibition of the Marie and Averell Harriman Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1961, unnumbered catalogue, repro. 17.
1963
A World of Flowers: Paintings and Prints, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1963, unnumbered catalogue, repro. in Bulletin 58, no. 277 (Spring 1963).
1980
Post-Impressionism: Cross-Currents in European and American Painting 1880-1906, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980, no. 77, color repro., as Still Life, Roses.
1991
Art for the Nation: Gifts in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1991, unnumbered catalogue, color repro.
1993
Extended loan for use by Ambassador Pamela Harriman, U.S. Embassy residence, Paris, France, 1993-1997.
1999
Van Gogh's Irises: Masterpiece in Focus, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1999, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
2001
Impressionist Still Life, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2001-2002, pl. 79.
2010
The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2010, no. 150, repro.
2011
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 2011, no. 21, repro.

Bibliography

1919
L'Art Moderne et quelques aspects de l'art d'autrefois. Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, 1919:plate 61.
1927
Faille, J.-B. de la. L'Epoque française de van Gogh. Paris, 1927:60, repro.
1929
"Franzosen in Glasgow." Cicerone XXI (April 1929):243, repro. 237.
1931
Mannes, Marya. "A Modern Setting for Contemporary Pictures" International Studio (March 1931): 24, repro.
1933
Rich, Daniel Catton. "The Exhibition of French Art "Art Institute" of Chicago." Formes 33 (1933): 383
1937
Scherjon, W. and Jos. de Gruyter. Vincent van Gogh's Great Period: Arles, St. Rémy and Auvers sur Oise (Complete Catalogue). Amsterdam, 1937:301, no. 110, repro.
1939
Faille, J.-B. de la. Vincent Van Gogh. New York and Paris, 1939: 484. no. 681, repro.
1970
Faille, J.-B. de la. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970: no. F681, repro.
1980
Hulsker, Jan. The Complete van Gogh. New York, 1980: 448-450, no. 1976, repro.
1988
Feilchenfeldt, Walter, Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin. Amsterdam, 1988:112
1991
Gingold, Diane J. and Elizabeth A.C. Weil. The Corporate Patron. New York, 1991: 106, 202-203, color repro.
1994
Walther, Ingo F. Vincent van Gogh: sämliche Gemälde. 2 vols. Cologne, 1994: II:p. 625
1998
Whelan, Richard. Impressionist Flowers: Art of the Bouquet. Cobb, California, 1998.
1999
Welsh-Ovcharov, Bogomila. Van Gogh: Provence and Auvers. New York, 1999:repro. 224.
1999
Yeide, Nancy H. "The Marie Harriman Gallery." Archives of American Art Journal 39, nos. 1-2 (1999):2-11, repro.
2001
Rathbone, Eliza and George Shackelford. Impressionist Still Life. Ex. cat. The Phillips Collection, Washington, 2001:175, repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 376, no. 309, color repro.
2013
Harris, Neil. Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience. Chicago, 2013: 417.

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