"Green Wheat Fields, Auvers" was unveiled at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., Monday after it was donated to the museum earlier this year by the widow of millionaire Paul Mellon, Rachel.
Mellon's father, Andrew Mellon, founded the National Gallery in 1937, and he had his son had kept the piece in their family's private collection since its last public viewing in 1966.
For decades, it had hung, unframed, in Paul and Rachel Mellon's Virginia home. Now it sits in a gold frame -- although not behind glass -- next to a portrait of the painter, who died at age 37 just weeks after completing the work.
"Green Wheat Fields, Auvers," is large for the Dutch master, measuring three feet by two-and-a-half feet in size. It is referred to as a "pure landscape," lacking any subjects but featuring a brilliant green field with flowers and blue and white clouds.
“He suffered but was soothed by nature,” said Mary Morton, curator of French painting, explaining that the painter “seemed to take comfort in nature toward the end of his life."
“He’s struggling, but he is feeling these incredible waves of joy,” she said. "It is incredibly powerful."