Landscape near Arles

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903)

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This canvas was the first one Gauguin painted during the two months he spent in Provence with Vincent van Gogh in 1888, just after his productive summer in Pont-Aven. Gauguin had rebelled against Impressionism's reliance on the visible world, and he altered nature's shapes and colors to suggest his own more subjective reaction to the landscape.

In this composition, however, Gauguin focuses on forms and structure. While the rural subject and acidic colors show the influence of van Gogh, this image is more indebted to Paul Cézanne. In his careful integration of the haystack and farm buildings, Gauguin has echoed Cézanne's emphasis on geometric form.

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

In late 1888, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh lived and worked together in Provence, briefly realizing Van Gogh's fervent desire for an artistic fraternity he called the Studio of the South. Gauguin arrived in Arles at the end of October, traveling directly from Pont-Aven.

Documents and technical analysis have established that Landscape near Arles was the first work Gauguin undertook during his sojourn. Painted on a linen canvas provided by Van Gogh, the subject is drawn from their first excursion to the plains of the Crau, one of Van Gogh's favorite areas. It features a typical Provençal mas, or farmhouse; the cypress trees common in the region; and a large haystack appropriate for the harvest season. While the rural subject and acid colors recall Van Gogh's taste, the painting is far more indebted to the work of Paul Cézanne, an artist Gauguin revered. Here, he echos Cézanne's emphasis on geometric forms. By locking the clean shapes of haystack and farm buildings into a firm network of carefully placed brushstrokes, Gauguin constructed a highly ordered environment. Distinctly different from Van Gogh's more impetuously produced paintings, Landscape near Arles is a surprisingly calm product of an intense interlude shared by two strong personalities.

Unbeknownst to the public, two men accomplished in that period a colossal amount of work, useful to both of them. Perhaps to others as well? Some things bear fruit.
-Paul Gauguin, 1903

(Ambroise Vollard [1867-1939], Paris, France) by 1907; Gabriel Frizeau, Bordeaux; (Ambroise Vollard, Paris) again by 1910; {1} to (Justin K. Thannhauser [1892-1976], Munich, Germany) in 1912; {2} sold to Baron August von der Heydt [1851-1929], Elberfeld, Rheinland, Germany by 1918; {3} sold to a Mr. Neumann, Barmen,Germany after World War I, probably Karl Neumann; {4} Possibly sold back to (Justin K. Thannhauser). {5} Probably (A. Tooth & Sons, London, England). {6} In the collection of Captain Ernest Duveen, London, by 1927.{7} (Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London). {8} Via (Hugo Perls [1886-1977], New York, New York) to (M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, New York) by 1942; {9} purchased from (M. Knoedler & Co., Inc.) by Mrs. Julian Bobbs in February 1944 for the John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, as a Gift in memory of William Ray Adams.{10}

{1} For the detailed early provenance of this painting see Daniel Wildenstein, Gauguin: A Savage in the Making:Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings (1873-1888), Paris, Milan, 2002, cat. no. 315 (ill.).
{2} Wildenstein cat. rais., 2002, cited above notes that Vollard sold it to Thannhauser in Munich, see Vollard 1912 diary in Vollard Archives, Documentation de la Conservation, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
{3} See C. G. Heise, Die Sammlung des Freiherrn August von der Heydt, Elberfeld, 1918, no. 93 (ill.). Also, in correspondence between Eduard von der Heydt [1882-1964], son of Baron August von der Heydt, and the John Herron Art Institute, dated 14 September 1946, the former recalls that his father purchased the painting from Justin K. Thannhauser. See correspondence in IMA Historical File (44.10).
{4} Ibid. Eduard von der Heydt notes in the same letter that the Gauguin was sold to a "Mr. Neumann in Barmen."
{5} Ibid. Von der Heydt's son believes that the painting went back to Thannhauser after Neumann owned it briefly.
{6} As cited in Wildenstein cat. rais., 2002.
{7} See J. B. Manson, "Two Modern French Pictures," Apollo, London , Vol. 5, No. 25, January 1927, p. 32 identifies the painting as belonging to Captain Ernest Duveen.
{8} See the exhibition catalogue for Exhibition of Master of French 19th -century Painting, New Burlington Galleries, London, cat. no. 97 for Agnew & Sons as owner.
{9} A typed list in the Hugo Perls Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute, New York - microfilm 712, reel 1, frame 165 - lists a Gauguin landscape that is likely to be the IMA's Landscape near Arles. For Knoedler, see the printed exhibition checklist for Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, "French Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries, November 1942, checklist no. 28, copy in IMA Provenance file (44.10)
{10} Mrs. Julian Bobbs (Helen Adams Bobbs) was married to William Ray Adams in her first marriage.

Object Information

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903)
creation date
oil on canvas
36 x 28-1/2 in. (canvas)
3 x 35-3/4 x 3 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift in memory of William Ray Adams
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture 1800-1945

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