March 17, 1901: van Gogh’s First Major Showing
On March 17, 1901, paintings by the late Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh are shown at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery in Paris. The 71 paintings, which captured their subjects in bold brushstrokes and expressive colors, caused a sensation across the art world.
Eleven years before, while living in Auvers-sur-Oise outside Paris, van Gogh had committed suicide without any notion that his work was destined to win acclaim beyond his wildest dreams. In his lifetime, he had sold only one painting. One of his paintings–the Yasuda Sunflowers–sold for just under $40 million at a Christie’s auction in 1987.
Most famous work from van Gogh’s Dutch period, The Potato Eaters (1885)
He was greatly influenced by the theories of artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissarro, and Georges Seurat. Under the advice of Pissarro he adopted the kind of colorful palette for which he is famous. His painting Portrait of Pere Tanguy (1887) was the first successful work in his new postimpressionist style.
The next 12 months marked his first great period. Working quickly and with much intensity he produced such works as The Night Café (1888). It was the year he cut off a piece of his ear during his first bout with mental illness.
One of the great paintings from the period that he spent 12 months at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence asylum was the swirling, visionary Starry Night (1889).
Over the next decade, a handful of other van Gogh exhibits took place, but it was not until the Bernheim-Jeune show in 1901 that he was recognized as a truly important painter. In subsequent decades, his fame grew exponentially, and today his paintings are among the most recognized works of art in the world.