A drawing of a young girl by Vincent van Gogh raised over $10 million at a Christie‘s online auction in New York, that’s 8.7 million euros. According to experts, it is one of the most beautiful drawings in his oeuvre. Who the buyer is, did not disclose the auction house.
The drawing, made with reed pen and brown ink, came from British private property. On this, too, the renowned auction house remained extremely discreet. In the catalogue the origin was described as A family collection. However, the Art Newspaper reported that the contributors would be the sons of the famous London art dealer Thomas Gibson.
Van Gogh produced the attractive portrait of the teenager in Arles in southern France between July 31 and August 3, 1888. He called it La Mousmé, a reference to the Japanese word for young girl. Under the same title, he also produced a painting, which is now in the collection of the American National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Who this Provencal adolescent was, is not known. 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 for the general public in 2018. It was then held at the Van Gogh and Britain exhibition organised by the Tate Britain museum.