La Mousmé Sketch by Vincent van Gogh Could Fetch $10 Million at Christie’s

Shreeya Maskey
Published on

A painting titled La Mousmé was “the only thing in painting that excites me to the depths of my soul, and which makes me feel the infinite more than anything else,” Vincent van Gogh wrote to his younger brother and art dealer Theo in 1888. Around this time, van Gogh was working on a group of portrait studies featuring a woman he found interesting. He described his work to Theo in the same letter: “If you know what a ‘mousmé’ is (you will know when you have read Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème), I have just painted one. It took me a whole week… but I had to reserve my mental energy to do the mousmé well.”

A sketch of La Mousmé from Vincent van Gogh is among the highlighted lots in an upcoming Christie’s auction featuring works on paper. This live event will be held in New York on March 1st, 2021. Estimated to fetch USD 10 million, this La Mousmé sketch may set a new auction record for a van Gogh drawing.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), La Mousmé, 1888. Oil on canvas. Chester Dale Collection. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington. Image from Christie’s.
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), La Mousmé, 1888. Oil on canvas. Chester Dale Collection. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington. Image from Christie’s.

In February 1888, Vincent van Gogh moved from Paris to the Provençal town of Arles. During this period in his career, he was captivated by Japanese culture and art. Van Gogh started to work on an oil painting of a poised young Provençale girl, titled La Mousmé. Today, the completed painting can be found at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

A few days after completing the portrait, the artist produced a red pen, brown ink, and pencil version. This sketch now comes to auction. The offered lot borrows the name La Mousmé from a word coined in Pierre Loti’s bestseller Madame Chrysanthème. “Mousmé is a word meaning a young girl or a very young woman,” the author explained. “It is one of the prettiest words in the Japanese language; it seems that there is, in this word, pout.”

Vincent van Gogh’s drawing for La Mousmé (July-August 1888). Image from Christie’s.
Vincent van Gogh’s drawing for La Mousmé (July-August 1888). Image from Christie’s.

In the offered drawing, van Gogh used dots of ink to depict a young Japanese woman. Delicate shadows and tonalities help bring the portrait to life. The scattered dots stretch across the background of the sketch.

Interested collectors can register to bid on Christie’s website. The live auction will begin on March 1st, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST. 

Interested in more auction updates? Auction Daily recently covered Sotheby’s sale of a restituted art piece from Italian painter Jacopo di Cione.

Writer
James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

Media Source

More in the auction industry