A drawing of a young girl by Vincent van Gogh comes under the hammer on March 1 at an online auction of Christie‘s in New York. According to experts, it is one of the most beautiful drawings in his oeuvre. He made the portrait of the teenager in Arles in southern France between 31 July and 3 August 1888. It is expected that the work of art will generate between 7 and 10 million dollars.
The drawing, made with reed pen and brown ink, comes from British private property. The auction house itself has not announced a name for the current owners of what they call A Family Collection, from which works on paper by Lucian Freud, Henry Moore and Georges Seurat will be sold. Reportedly, the contributors are sons of the well-known London art dealer Thomas Gibson.
Van Gogh’s drawing is the absolute highlight of this auction. The Dutch artist also made a painting of the unknown child, which he called La Mousmé, a reference to the Japanese word for a young girl. This canvas is in the collection of the American National Gallery of Art in Washinton D.C.
Whoever this Provencal adolescent was is unknown. In his letters Van Gogh writes that she was 12 years old. But he doesn‘t mention a name. The writer Bernadette Murphy suggested in her book Van Gogh’s ear that it would be the niece of his housekeeper Thérèse Balmossière. Although she does not provide conclusive evidence for this.
The drawing was still on display in 2018 for the big pubic. It was then held at the Van Gogh and Britain exhibition organised by the Tate Britain museum.