Updated: August 18, 2014
Father and Daughter Famously Immortalized by Vincent van Gogh to be Reunited this Summer; On View June 8 through September 18, 2014, Just in Time for Father’s Day
The postman Joseph Roulin, who Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) made famous through a series of portraits, will be exhibited for the first time in the National Gallery of Art’s West Building French Galleries from June 8 to September 18, 2014. On loan from the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, The Netherlands, the Portrait of Joseph Roulin (1889) will hang alongside the Gallery’s own Roulin’s Baby (1888), the portrait of the postman’s daughter Marcelle as an infant. Though painted within a year of each other, this is the first time these versions of the works will be shown together, along with other related works by Van Gogh.
Shortly after moving to the river port town of Arles in the south of France, Van Gogh began painting the Roulin family. In letters, the artist idealized the patriarch. On canvas, he immortalized him; his wife, Augustine; and their three children, Armand, Camille and baby Marcelle.
“The relationship between Van Gogh and the Roulins was extraordinary,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “The artist’s admiration for them is evident in these portraits and the opportunity to see these portraits of father and daughter reunited again, for the first time in 125 years, is not only a touching tribute to the enduring bonds of friendship, but a poignant reflection on family.”
The portraits of the postman and his daughter Marcelle will go on view in Gallery 83 with seven other paintings by Van Gogh from the Gallery’s holdings, including Girl in White (1890), La Mousmé (1888), The Olive Orchard (1889), Roses (1890), and the recent acquisition Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (1890). This painting was bequeathed to the Gallery by renowned philanthropist, art collector and Gallery benefactor Paul Mellon (1907–1999), subject to a life estate in his wife, Rachel Lambert Mellon (1910—2014), which gave her the right to possess the work for her lifetime. She relinquished the remainder of her life estate in July 2013, seven months prior to her death, allowing the Gallery to take immediate possession of the painting.
Currently undergoing conservation treatment, Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves (1889) is another major painting from the bequest of Paul Mellon, and will also be part of this installation.
Farmhouse in Provence (1888) will be on view until early July, when it will be replaced with the artist’s Self-Portrait (1889).
Thanks to the generosity of important benefactors such as Mr. Mellon, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, Chester Dale, Pamela Harriman, and John Hay Whitney, the National Gallery of Art has 10 paintings by Van Gogh, six of which are currently on view in Washington. In addition, the Gallery owns 11 prints and drawings by the artist that may be seen by appointment by calling 202- 842-6380.
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