Vincent van Gogh’s Le moissonneur (1889, estimate £12,500,000-16,500,000) is one of a series of ten works executed after Jean-François Millet’s Les travaux des champs – seven of which are in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – described by his brother Theo as “perhaps the finest things you’ve done.”
Painted at Saint-Rémy in September 1889 at a critical moment in the penultimate year of Vincent van Gogh’s life, Le moissonneur (d’après Millet) pays homage to the artist whom he most admired and respected: Jean-François Millet. Charged with intense color and electrifying brushwork, this painting dates from the beginning of one of the most prolific periods of Van Gogh’s career, a stage that saw an almost miraculous outpouring of work in the midst of the artist’s episodic yet ever-increasing mental breakdowns that punctuated the final years of his life.
Le Moissonneur (d’après Millet) is one of ten paintings that Van Gogh made after a series of drawings by Jean-François Millet entitled Les Travaux des Champs (1852), seven of which now reside in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, with the other two in private hands. The work of Millet became a major focus for Van Gogh during this period, following the gift of a set of engravings of Millet’s Les Travaux des Champs by Jacques-Adrien Lavielle that was sent to Van Gogh from his brother Theo van Gogh the same year. Le Moissonneur (d’après Millet), employs the composition of Millet but is filled with Van Gogh’s own dramatic and intense use of color. With his back to the viewer, bent over as he works the fields, the male figure is illuminated against the deep blue sky and golden yellow fields.
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