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Vincent van Gogh painting to go on public display for first time in 134 years

Vincent van Gogh painting to go on public display for first time in 134 years
The 1887 painting was a part of a pivotal period in Vincent van Gogh's painting career in which he began to use a greater variety of color. Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A painting of Paris' Montmartre district by Vincent van Gogh will go on public display for the first time next week in Amsterdam ahead of its auction later in March.

The painting, Impasse des Deux Frères et le Moulin à Poivre (Street scene in Montmartre), has been in private hands since its creation in the spring of 1887, according to auction house Mirabaud Mercier. The Paris-based company is joining with Sotheby's to sell the painting in a March 25 auction of impressionist and modern art in Paris.

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The landscape depicts a couple and a child on a street in front of the famed Moulin Debray, a 19th century pepper mill that was destroyed in 1911. The mill is seen from the Impasse des Deux Frères, a street atop the hill in Paris known as Montmartre.

"When we saw the painting for the first time, we felt a strong emotion," said Claudia Mercier and Fabien Mirabaud in a statement. "We are happy to present this unique work on the art market today, which has remained in the same family for a century."

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Aurélie Vandevoorde and Etienne Hellman, senior directors of the Impressionist and Modern Art department at Sotheby's France, said it's rare for an artwork from this period to have been maintained by the same family and kept private for so long. Most, they said, are kept in prestigious museums.

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"The presentation on the market of a painting from this iconic series will therefore undoubtedly be a major event for Van Gogh collectors and for the art market in general," they said.

Van Gogh painted the scene while living with his brother, Theo van Gogh, in Montmartre -- the district in Paris named after the hill. A release from Mirabaud Mercier said the period marks the pivotal moment in van Gogh's career when he began to experiment more with color. His earlier works tended to be darker, using more neutral earth tones.

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"Street scene in Montmartre is thus a remarkable testimony to a crucial era in the work of one of the greatest masters of modern art," the release said.

The painting will be on display Monday-Wednesday at Sotheby's Amsterdam; March 9-12 at Sotheby's Hong Kong; March 16-18 at Hôtel Drouot in Paris; and March 19-23 at Sotheby's Paris.

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