Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Women Picking Olives

Artist:
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)
Date:
1889
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
28 5/8 x 36 in. (72.7 x 91.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection, Gift of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 1995, Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002
Accession Number:
1995.535
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 823
At the end of 1889, Van Gogh painted three versions of this picture. He described the first as a study from nature "more colored with more solemn tones" (private collection) and the second as a studio rendition in a "very discreet range" of colors (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). The present work, the most resolved and stylized of the three, was intended for his sister and mother, to whom Van Gogh wrote: "I hope that the painting of the women in the olive trees will be a little to your taste—I sent [a] drawing of it to Gauguin, . . . and he thought it good. . . ."
the artist's brother Theo van Gogh, Paris (1890–d. 1891; sent to him by the artist on January 3, 1890); his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam, in trust for their son, Vincent Willem van Gogh (1891–95; sold with six other paintings for 384 guilders to Moline); [Lucien Moline, Paris, from 1895]; Bernard Goudchaux, Paris; Dikran Kelekian, Paris and New York (by 1920–36; his sale, American Art Galleries, New York, January 30–31, 1922, no. 157, bought in for $4,400 by Joseph Brummer for Kelekian; sold on October 25, 1936 to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, 1936–37; sold on July 13, 1937 for £5,000 to Schuster]; Sir Victor Schuster, London (1937; returned on November 1 to Wildenstein in exchange for "Olive Trees" by Van Gogh [MMA 1998.325.1]); [Wildenstein, London, from 1937]; A. Stoll (until no later than 1943; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, by 1943–49, stock no. 16404; sold on December 13, 1949 to Haupt]; Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt, New York (1949–his d. 1963); Mrs. Enid A. Haupt, New York (1963–83; sold in 1983 to Annenberg); her brother and his wife, Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, Rancho Mirage, Calif. (1983–95; jointly with MMA, 1995–his d. 2002)
Brooklyn Museum. "Paintings by Modern French Masters, Representing the Post Impressionists and Their Predecessors," March 26–April 25, 1921, no. 216 (as "Gathering Olives," lent by D. G. Kelekian).

New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Six Masters of Post-Impressionism," April 8–May 8, 1948, no. 68 (as "Gathering of Olives," lent by Wildenstein & Co., Inc.).

Cleveland Museum of Art. "Work by Vincent van Gogh," November 3–December 12, 1948, no. 27 (as "Women Gathering Olives [La Cuillette (sic) des Olives]," lent by Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York).

New York. Wildenstein. "Van Gogh," March 24–April 30, 1955, no. 60 (as "Olive Pickers," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt).

New York. Parke-Bernet. "Art Treasures Exhibition," June 16–30, 1955, no. 356 (as "La Cueillette des Olives," lent by Mrs. Ira Haupt).

New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Van Gogh and Expressionism," July 1–September 13, 1964, unnum. brochure (as "Olive Pickers," lent by a private collection, New York).

New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Impressionist Treasures from Private Collections in New York," January 12–29, 1966, no. 12 (as "Olive Picking," lent by Enid A. Haupt).

Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 21–September 17, 1989, unnumbered cat.

Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 6–August 5, 1990, unnumbered cat.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," August 16–November 11, 1990, unnumbered cat.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," June 4–October 13, 1991, unnumbered cat.

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [on or about December 19, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b666 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 617; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 829], describes a picture he is working on of women picking olives (F656; National Gallery of Art, Washington) and says that it is done "from memory after the study of the same size done on the spot" (F654; private collection); adds that he will probably make two or three repetitions of it, and mentions that he is "treating myself by redoing the olive trees again for our mother and sister" (the present work).

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his mother, Anna van Gogh-Carbentus. [on or about December 23, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b668 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 619; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 831], writes that he is working on "another rather large painting for you of women harvesting olives. The trees gray-green with a pink sky and purplish soil. All the colors more subdued than usual".

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his sister Willemien. [on or about December 23, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b718 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. W18; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 832], writes that "I hope that you'll quite like the canvas I'm doing for Mother and you at the moment. It's a repetition of a painting for Theo, Women picking olives".

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [January 3, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b670 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 621; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 834], writes that among a group of canvases shipped to Theo that day is "Women picking olives," which he had intended for their mother and sister (the present picture), adding that he also has a repetition of it for Theo (F656; National Gallery of Art, Washington) and a study from nature (F654; private collection).

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his sister Willemien. [January 4, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b717 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. W17; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 837], writes that he sent some paintings to Paris the day before, and designated "the one of the women picking olives" for her and their mother.

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his sister Willemien. [January 20, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b719 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. W19; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 841], writes that he hopes "that the painting of the women in the olive trees will be a little to your taste," adding that he sent a drawing of it to Gauguin, who thought it was good.

Theo van Gogh. Letter to his brother Vincent. January 22, 1890 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b752 a-b V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. T25; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 843], states that when he again saw the "olive trees," including this work, he "found them more and more beautiful".

Vincent van Gogh. Draft of a letter to his sister Willemien. [on or about May 21, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b721 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. W21; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. RM19], writes that he would have liked to her to see his paintings of olive groves with their different skies of yellow, pink, and blue.

Vincent van Gogh. Draft of a letter to Joseph Jacob Isaäcson. [May 25, 1890] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b663 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 614a; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. RM21], states that in the olive grove paintings he sought "some effects of opposition between the changing foliage and the tones of the sky," adding, "after a shower, I have seen all the sky colored in pink and bright orange, which gave an exquisite value and coloration to the silvery greenish grays".

Lucien Moline. Letter to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. June 14, 1895 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b1312 V/1962], states that a "marchand très aventureux" has offered to purchase six paintings by Van Gogh for a net price of 800 francs, but "les oliviers" will not be sold with the group.

Lucien Moline. Letter to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. December 17, 1895 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b1313 V/1962], writes that the client who is interested in acquiring the six Van Goghs now wants to include "Les Oliviers" in the purchase, for the same net price of 800 francs; suggests substituting a painting of flowers by Van Gogh, instead, as "la cueillette des oliviers" is one of his best works and highly regarded by other artists, such as Pissarro.

Lucien Moline. Letter to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. December 20, 1895 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b1314 V/1962], writes that he is enclosing a check for 384 guilders, the price of the seven paintings that Johanna consigned to him, including "les Oliviers"; adds that the paintings were sold to a dealer.

Introduction by Arsène Alexandre. Collection Kélékian: tableaux de l'école française moderne. Paris, 1920, unpaginated, pl. 69, as "La cueillette des olives".

J.-B. de La Faille. L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné. Paris, 1928, vol. 1, p. 186, no. 655; vol. 2, pl. 183.

W. Scherjon. Catalogue des tableaux par Vincent van Gogh décrits dans ses lettres. Périodes: St. Rémy et Auvers sur Oise. Utrecht, 1932, pp. 76–77, no. 70, ill.

Louis Pierard. Vincent van Gogh. Paris, 1936, unpaginated, no. 45, ill.

W. Scherjon and Jos. De Gruyter. Vincent van Gogh's Great Period: Arles, St. Rémy and Auvers sur Oise (complete catalogue). Amsterdam, 1937, pp. 266–67, St. Rémy no. 70, ill.

J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh. London, [1939], pp. 458, 559, 577, 588, no. 665, ill., as in the collection of Wildenstein, Paris.

Werner Weisbach. Vincent van Gogh: Kunst und Schicksal. Vol. 2, Basel, [1951], pp. 162–63.

M. E. Tralbaut. "Twee onuitgegeven documenten." De Tafelronde 2, nos. 8–9 (1955), pp. 7–8, suggests that F654 (private collection, Switzerland) is the version done "on the spot" and therefore, that our picture is one of the subsequent versions.

John Rewald. Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin. 1st ed. New York, 1956, p. 358, ill. [3rd, rev. ed., 1978, p. 330, ill. p. 333].

Vincent van Gogh. The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh with Reproductions of All the Drawings in the Correspondence. Greenwich, Conn., 1958, under letter nos. 614a, 617, 619, 621, W17–W19, W21, T25.

H. R. Graetz. The Symbolic Language of Vincent van Gogh. New York, 1963, p. 222, pl. 86.

Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, p. 190.

J.-B. de La Faille. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 258–59, 637, no. 655, ill., agrees with Tralbaut [Ref. 1955] that F654, rather than this picture, is the original version.

Wesley Towner completed by Stephen Varble. The Elegant Auctioneers. New York, 1970, p. 330.

Paolo Lecaldano. L'opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh e i suoi nessi grafici. Vol. 2, Da Arles a Auvers. repr. [1st ed., 1966]. Milan, 1971–77, pp. 224–25, no. 744, ill.

Hope Benedict Werness. "Essays on van Gogh's Symbolism." PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1972, pp. 160–62, n. 8.

John Rewald. "Should Hoving Be De-accessioned?" Art in America 61 (January–February 1973), p. 28.

Matthias Arnold. "Duktus und Bildform bei Vincent van Gogh." PhD diss., Ruprecht-Karl University, Heidelberg, 1973, p. 191 n. 305.

Jan Hulsker. The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1977]. New York, 1980, pp. 428–30, no. 1869, ill.

Ronald Pickvance The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers. New York, 1986, pp. 16–17, 53, 55, 98, 304, 318, ill. p. 306, tentatively suggests that this is the painting Van Gogh sent to his mother and sister in January 1890.

Johannes van der Wolk. The Seven Sketchbooks of Vincent van Gogh. New York, 1987, p. 308, reproduces the sketchbook drawing of the motif (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), referring to it as "the Auvers-sur-Oise version done from memory".

Juleke van Lindert in The Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh. Ed. E. van Uitert and M. Hoyle. Amsterdam, 1987, p. 274.

Roland Dorn in Vincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, p. 155 n. 2, p. 158, states that this painting and "Women Picking Olives" (National Gallery of Art, Washington; F656) are versions after "Olive Grove with Two Olive Pickers" (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo; F587), and were made as gifts for van Gogh's brother, mother, and sister.

Jan Hulsker. Vincent and Theo van Gogh: A Dual Biography. Ed. James M. Miller. Trans. and rev. ed. [1st ed. Weesp, Holland, 1985]. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1990, p. 386.

Joseph J. Rishel in Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Colin B. Bailey, Joseph J. Rishel, and Mark Rosenthal. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, pp. 108–9, 111, 200–201, ill. (color and black and white), identifies this picture as the version intended for van Gogh's sister and mother, but is uncertain which of the other two versions is the study done from nature.

Jérôme Coignard. "Le Salon de peinture de Mr. et Mrs. Annenberg." Beaux arts no. 92 (July–August 1991), p. 72.

Jan Hulsker. Vincent van Gogh: A Guide to His Work and Letters. Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 42–43, 56–57, 76.

Jan Hulsker. The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. rev. ed. Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 428, 430, no. 1869, ill., identifies this picture as the version made for the artist's sister and mother, and F654 (private collection) as the original painting.

Susan Alyson Stein in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1995–1996." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 54 (Fall 1996), p. 46, ill. (color), states that "scholars have tentatively identified" the Washington version (F656) as the original composition, the MMA picture (F655) as the copy made for Van Gogh's sister and mother, and the picture in a private collection (F654) as the copy made for Theo.

Sjraar van Heugten. Vincent van Gogh, Drawings. Vol. 2, Nuenen, 1883–1885. Amsterdam, 1997, p. 237 n. 8, states that this painting and related works (F 654, F 656) are the only Arles and St. Rémy harvest scenes in which human figures are prominent.

Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Art News 97 (May 1998), p. 147.

Griselda Pollock in Framing France: The Representation of Landscape in France, 1870–1914. Ed. Richard Thomson. Manchester, 1998, p. 105.

Ronald Pickvance. Van Gogh. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2000, pp. 46, 101.

Douglas Druick and Peter Kort Zegers et al. Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. New York, 2001, pp. 320–21, fig. 89 (color), date it about December 20, 1889.

Chris Stolwijk and Han Veenenbos. The Account Book of Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Amsterdam, 2002, pp. 47, 105, 142, 181, 183, ill., tentatively identify it as one of seven paintings sold by Van Gogh-Bonger for 384 guilders to the Paris dealer Lucien Moline in 1895.

Teio Meedendorp in The Paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Ed. Toos van Kooten and Mieke Rijnders. Otterlo, 2003, p. 331 n. 1.

Viviane Rosé. Temps, Affect, Sensation: de Cézanne à Matisse. PhD diss., Universite de Toulouse-Le-Mirail. Lille, [2003], pp. 229–30.

Belinda Thomson. Van Gogh Painter: The Masterpieces. Amsterdam, 2007, pp. 160, 162–64, fig. 150 (color).

Marije Vellekoop, and Roelie Zwikker, with the assistance of Monique Hageman. Vincent van Gogh, Drawings. Vol. 4, Arles, Saint-Rémy & Auvers-sur-Oise, 1888–90. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 2007, part 1, p. 27 n. 136, state that it was the model for the drawing F 1729 (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).

Laura Ann Coyle. "The Still-Life Paintings of Vincent van Gogh and Their Context." PhD diss., Princeton University, September 2007, p. 477 n. 1266, links the combination of pink and green tones in this and related paintings (F654, F656) to a similar use of colors in four still-lifes, two of which are also at the MMA (F678, F680–82).

Susan Alyson Stein in Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. 220–24, based on close examination by conservators, states that the chronology of the three versions is established: the first study from nature is F654 (private collection), the studio replica intended for Theo is F656 (National Gallery of Art, Washington), and the final version intended for his mother and sister is the MMA picture; notes that this picture was sent to Theo but for unknown reasons was never forwarded by him to Leiden; calls ours the "simplest, most resolved, and most stylized of the three variations on a theme".

Joseph J. Rishel in Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. 217–20, 226, no. 41, ill. (color).

Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 5, pp. 166–67, fig. 12 (color), under letter no. 829, p. 172, fig. 3 (color), under letter no. 831, p. 173, fig. 1 (color), under letter no. 832, p. 175, fig. 7 (color), under letter no. 834, p. 180, fig. 1 (color), under letter no. 837, p. 187, fig. 1 (color), under letter no. 841, p. 189, under letter no. 843, p. 317, under letter no. RM19, p. 320, fig. 7 (color), under letter no. RM21.

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Van Gogh: The Life. New York, 2011, pp. 794–95, ill. between pp. 590 and 591 (color).

Renske Suijver. "'To Capture Things First-Hand': Van Gogh's Sketchbooks." Van Gogh's Studio Practice. Ed. Marije Vellekoop et al. Brussels, 2013, p. 89.

Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France. Complete Paintings 1886–1890. London, 2013, p. 31 n. 23, pp. 235, 312–13, 317–18, 320, 343, 347, ill. (color) [1st German ed., 2009].

Edwin Mullins. Van Gogh: The Asylum Year. London, 2015, pp. 122, 127, 132, 139.

Stefan Koldehoff. Ich und van Gogh: Bilder, Sammler und ihre abenteuerlichen Geschichten. Berlin, 2015, pp. 125, 140.



Van Gogh mentioned in a letter to his sister [Ref. 1890] that he sent a drawing of this composition to Gauguin (present location unknown). A sketchbook drawing of the motif (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) was apparently done from memory, perhaps in preparation for an etching of the subject [see Ref. Wolk 1987].
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