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Madame Roulin

Paul Gauguin, French, 1848–1903
Augustine Alix Roulin, French, 1851–1930
November 1888
Oil on canvas
Made in
Arles, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Western Europe, France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 217
19 7/8 x 25 in. (50.5 x 63.5 cm)
framed: 30 11/16 in. x 36 in. x 4 1/8 in. (77.9 x 91.4 x 10.5 cm)
Credit Line
Funds given by Mrs. Mark C. Steinberg
Public Domain
Object Number
Paul Gauguin produced this portrait during a tempestuous two months spent in the company of Vincent van Gogh at Arles in the south of France. This female model was the local postman’s wife, and Gauguin focused on her ruddy complexion and reddish-brown hair. He also painted areas of flat, abstracted color, such as the shadow and the wall behind the chair. The woman’s form is strongly outlined in Prussian blue while a schematic version of one of the artist’s own pictures, "Blue Trees," is visible on the wall behind.
c.1895 -
Ambroise Vollard (1867-1939), Paris, France [1]

by 1943 -
Private Collection, Paris, France [2]

- 1956
M. Marcelin [3]

1956/05/31 - 1959
Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, NY, USA, purchased at auction of the estate of M. Marcelin at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 31, 1956, lot no. 16 [4]

1959 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Paul Rosenberg & Co. [5]

The main source for this provenance is the 2002 catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 327 [Wildenstein, Daniel. "Gauguin: A Savage in the Making: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings (1873-1888)." New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] Wildenstein suggests that Vollard purchased "Madame Roulin" from the Roulin family c.1895. He bases this assertion on J. N. Priou's article "Van Gogh et la famille Roulin," which describes Vollard's purchase of some family portraits from the Roulin family. However, Priou refers specifically to Roulin family portraits by van Gogh. He does not mention any by Gauguin [Priou, J. N. "Van Gogh et la famille Roulin." "Revue des P.T.T. de France" (May-June 1955): 26-32 also]. Sylvie Crussard, researcher for the Gauguin catalogue raisonné, confirms that the Vollard provenance is traditional [letter, March 3, 2004, SLAM document files]. Isabelle Cahn of the Musée d'Orsay found no documentation related to the painting in the Vollard archives from 1895; however, she did locate two glass negatives of the work [email, January 21, 2004, SLAM document files]. Scholar Michael Pantazzi believes that this confirms that Vollard once owned the painting [email, April 21, 2004, SLAM document files].

[2] "Madame Roulin" was published as held in a private collection in 1943, as held in a private collection in Paris in 1948 and 1950, and as held in a private collection in France in 1956 [Malingue, Maurice. "Gauguin." Monaco: Les Documents d'Art, 1944, copyrighted 1943; Malingue, Maurice. "Gauguin: le peintre et son oeuvre." Paris: Presses de la Cité, 1948; Dovski, Lee van. "Paul Gauguin oder Die Flucht vor der Zivilisation." Olten-Bern: Delphi-Verlag, 1950; Rewald, John. "Post-impressionism: From van Gogh to Gauguin." New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1956].

[3] In 1956, "Madame Roulin" was included in the sale of the estate of a "Mr. M..." ["Collection de Feu Mr. M… Importants Tableaux Modernes: Aquarelles, Pastels, Dessins." Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 31, 1956, no. 16]. Two annotated copies of the auction catalogue indicate that "Mr. M" is "Mr. Marcelin" [annotated photocopies of auction catalogue, SLAM document files]. It is unclear if Marcelin is the private collector identified as the owner of "Madame Roulin" in the publications of 1944, 1948, 1950, and 1956 (see note [2]).

[4] See auction catalogue cited in note [3].

[5] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control and the Advisory Committee of the City Art Museum, January 8, 1959.
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