Van Gogh Museum acquires Conversation intime watercolour by Louis Anquetin

31 May 2007

The Van Gogh Museum has purchased Conversation intime (1891) by the French artist Louis Anquetin (1861-1932). The acquisition dates from the period considered to be the most important in Anquetin’s oeuvre. The watercolour is a valuable addition to the range of works by artists belonging to Van Gogh’s circle of friends, enabling Van Gogh’s own work to be placed in a wider context.

Conversation intime depicts two women seated at a table in a café. A third woman is shown in profile in the background.

Louis Anquetin (1861-1932), Conversation intime, 1891, Van Gogh Museum (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Louis Anquetin
The Frenchman Louis Anquetin (1861-1932) was 21 when he left for Paris to study with the painter Léon Bonnat. Here he forged a friendship with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and together they transferred to the studio of Fernand Cormon, where they became acquainted with Emile Bernard and Vincent van Gogh. The four friends sought a new mode of expression in their work. It was Van Gogh who sparked Anquetin’s enthusiasm for Japanese woodcuts, and during the course of 1887 the influence of these prints became clearly evident in the work of both artists. Forms became more stylized and representations were built up of monochrome blocks of colour.

It was the works submitted by Anquetin to the exhibitions of Les XX in Brussels and the Salon des Indépendants in 1888 that prompted the art critic Edouard Dujardin to coin the term Cloisonnisme to describe the new style (planes of colour outlined with heavy contours suggestive of cloisonné enamel). Around 1890 Anquetin started to focus his work on the depiction of well-to-do ladies and café society, subjects that are combined in Conversation intime.

Presentation: Van Gogh’s friends
This acquisition will be shown to the public for the first time as part of Van Gogh’s friends. The presentation in the printroom of the Van Gogh Museum (Rietveld building, until 8 July) comprises more than 40 drawings, prints, paintings and letters from a number of key friends of Van Gogh, such as Anthon van Rappard, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Camille Pissarro. Van Gogh’s friends sheds light on the influential group of artists around Vincent van Gogh.

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