Van Gogh Museum acquires exciting painting by Louis Anquetin
27 May 2010
The Van Gogh Museum purchased the painting Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night (c. 1891) by Louis Anquetin (1861-1932). The purchase was made possible with support of the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association (supported by Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds) and the VSB Foundation. The painting shows a mysteriously smiling lady in extravagant attire strolling alone in the glow of the streetlights along a grand boulevard in Paris. The painting seems to fit into a thematically linked group of works in which Anquetin depicted the piquant world of lesbian relationships. With Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night, the Van Gogh Museum is able to introduce visitors to the distinctive nocturnal and sinful side of Paris culture, thus providing more insight into Van Gogh’s social and artistic environment. In connection with this purchase, a small presentation of eight works has been organised, including Woman in a garden by Anquetin’s friend Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, on loan from the National Gallery, and the watercolour Conversation intime, also by Louis Anquetin, which the museum purchased in 2007.
In the nineteenth century, the French painter Louis Anquetin was regarded as the most promising artist of his generation. He was one of the precursors of Post-Impressionism and his work exerted a great deal of influence on the artists around him and the generations after him, such as the Pont-Aven School and the Nabis. Louis Anquetin belonged to a group of artists which included Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, George Seurat, Emile Bernard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – a group Van Gogh called the artists of the Petit Boulevard. With his cloisonnist works (pictures influenced by Japanese prints and stained glass windows with flat fields of colour inside thick outlines), Anquetin very rapidly gained a reputation as an innovator in the Paris art world. His characteristic restless desire for innovation constantly drove him in new stylistic directions.
In 1889, Anquetin moved his studio from the alternative artists’ quarter of Montmartre to the more sophisticated rue de Rome, where he found his subject in mysterious women of the night, captured in elegant shapes and fine contours. Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night is a splendid example.
1891 was an absolute bumper year for the artist. He exhibited ten works at the most important exhibition for modern artists – the Salon des Indépendants – including Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night. The Parisian art critics praised the work at length, referring to it as one of the highlights of that exhibition season and an outstanding work in Anquetin’s oeuvre. The Van Gogh Museum is delighted to be able to add this picture to its collection.