Rarely seen Van Gogh painting exhibited ahead of auction

PARIS (AP) – A rare painting by Dutch Impressionist Vincent van Gogh of a street scene in the Paris district of Montmartre will be on public display for the first time ahead of its auction next month.

Sotheby’s auction house said the work painted in 1887 has remained in the same family collection for more than 100 years – out of the public eye.

It will be on display in Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Paris next month before an auction is held in the French capital on March 25th.

“It’s an important painting in Vincent van Gogh’s oeuvre because it dates from the time he lived in Paris with his brother Theo,” said Etienne Hellman, Sotheby’s senior director of impressionism and modern art, told Associated Press.

Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 and lived in Montmartre. He left the capital in 1888 for southern France, where he lived until his death in 1890.

“Before that, his pictures are much darker … In Paris he discovers color,” said Hellman. “Paint blows into the painting.”

“Street Scene in Montmartre” shows a windmill called Pepper Mill, seen from the street under a clear sky, with a man, a woman and a little girl walking in front of wooden palisades that surround the place.

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“Paris marks this time when … the great impressionists influence his work,” Hellman said.

Sotheby’s said the painting had already been published in seven catalogs but was never exhibited.

Claudia Mercier, auctioneer at Mirabaud Mercier, said: “It is also an important painting as very few of them are in private hands … especially from that period, most of them are now in museums.”

Sotheby’s has estimated the painting to be worth 5 to 8 million euros (between 6.1 and 9.8 million US dollars). It that did not reveal the identity of the owner.

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It will be on display in Amsterdam from March 1-3, March 9-12 in Hong-King and March 16-23 in Paris.

The pepper mill was destroyed while an avenue was being built in 1911, but two similar windmills are still located on Montmartre Hill today.

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