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Rarely seen Vincent van Gogh painting fetches $15.4M at auction

Rarely seen Vincent van Gogh painting fetches $15.4M at auction
Impasse des Deux Frères et le Moulin à Poivre (Street scene in Montmartre) (1887) by Vincent van Gogh fetched $15.4 million at auction Thursday. Image courtesy of Sotheby's

March 25 (UPI) -- A Vincent van Gogh painting put on display this week for the first time in 134 years sold for more than $15.4 million, well above its asking price, at Sotheby's Paris auction Thursday.

The painting, Impasse des Deux Frères et le Moulin à Poivre (Street scene in Montmartre), was estimated to fetch between $5.88 million and $9.42 million at the auction house's impressionist and modern art sale.

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The painting was offered up twice in the auction after a problem with Sotheby's online bidding system.

It was the top-selling painting in Thursday's auction, which included artworks by Edgar Degas, Francis Picabia, Camille Pissarro, Alberto Giacometti, Auguste Rodin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse and Amedeo Modigliani.

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The van Gogh painting had been in private hands since its creation in the spring of 1887. 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.

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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.

It went on display for the first time in more than century this month.

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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 auction house 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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