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Stairway at Auvers

Vincent van Gogh, Dutch, 1853–1890
July 1890
Oil on canvas
Place depicted
Auvers-sur-Oise, Île-de-France, France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 218
19 11/16 × 27 3/4 in. (50 × 70.5 cm)
framed: 27 7/8 in. × 35 15/16 in. × 5 in. (70.8 × 91.3 × 12.7 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
The expressive, swirling lines of the foreground road move backward to the center of the composition and join the base of a stairway on which an elderly man with a stick descends. Chestnut trees are in flower to the right and left, while two pair of women walk along the road. Vincent van Gogh’s work is of a compact, almost claustrophobic density and the sky is barely seen. In one of his final letters, Van Gogh described Auvers as “of a grave beauty, the real countryside, characteristic and picturesque.”
note [2]. Herbert Charles Coleman, a German Jew who formed an important collection of modern art, changed the spelling of his last name from Kullmann in 1916 [Fry, Roger Eliot. "Letters of Roger Fry." London: Chatto and Windus, Ltd., 1972, vol. 2, p. 518, 729]. The painting is recorded in Coleman's collection by June 1913, when he lent it to an exhibition at the Leeds Arts Club; he purchased the painting from Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, and may have acquired it from them as early as 1910 [Korn, Madeleine. "Collecting Paintings by Van Gogh in Britain before the Second World War," Van Gogh Museum Journal (2002), p. 128-129, 136]. On May 16, 1914, the painting was included in a sale of Coleman's collection at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, but it was not sold ["Collection de M. Herbert Kullmann (de Manchester)." Paris: 1914, lot 6]. The painting was also included in a 1914 exhibition, as lent by M. Kullmann ["Art Français: Exposition d'Art décoratif comtemporain, 1800-1885" London: Grosvenor House, 1914, no. 88]. According to de la Faille, the painting was documented in the Coleman collection in additional 1914 and 1926 exhibitions. We were not able, however, to confirm this with the exhibition catalogs ["Vincent van Gogh, 30. März 1853-29. Juli 1890: zehnte Ausstellung, Mai-Juni 1914." Berlin: P. Cassirer, 1914, cat no. 133; "List of Picture Loans at the Opening Exhibition of the Modern Foreign Gallery." London: National Gallery, 1926]. In 1922, the painting was recorded as hanging over the mantelpiece in Coleman's home [Diary of Michael Sadler, October 11, 1922, Tate Archives, ref. 8221.5.38]. The work was also published in an article about Coleman's collection in 1931 [Colson, Percy. "Some Notes on Mr. Herbert Coleman's Collection." "Apollo" Vol. 13, No. 76 (April, 1931): 215-218].

[4] The work was exhibited as lent by Paul Rosenberg at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1934 ["Wadsworth Atheneum: Loans in Honor of the Opening of the Avery Memorial." Hartford: Wadsworth Atheneum, 193
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