Two Lovers, Arles

Two Lovers, Arles

"At the top of this letter I’m sending you a little croquis of a study that’s preoccupying me as to how to make something of it — sailors coming back with their sweethearts towards the town, which projects the strange silhouette of its drawbridge against a huge yellow sun."
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Painting Date
22nd of March 1888
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Description:

This fragment (32.5 x 23 cm) of a painting, also referred to as the Walking Couple, sold for over 7 million dollars at Sotheby’s New York in May 2013 to a private party.  It is about 9 x 13 inches, just a bit larger than a piece of notebook paper.

It was part of a canvas depicting the Langlois Bridge and a road along the canal it crossed.  Vincent felt he had overworked the piece in the studio in the weeks following his original effort captured at the drawbridge site and all but the scrap of lovers walking on the path was either reused or discarded and lost forever.

Shown in Compare One is the fragment “Two Lovers, Arles” next to a sketch of the painting Vincent drew for his friend Emile Bernard in a letter.  Included as a Related Item is “The Langlois Bridge with Women Washing“, his first depiction of the scene.

Vincent paints this location 4 times in oil, once in watercolor and sketches and draws it another 4 times.  His last rendition of the scene is generally considered to be at the masterpiece level.  He will change color combinations and omit or include human figures in following repetitions of the setting he creates on paper and canvas.

 

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“At the top of this letter I’m sending you a little croquis of a study that’s preoccupying me as to how to make something of it — sailors coming back with their sweethearts towards the town, which projects the strange silhouette of its drawbridge against a huge yellow sun.”

 

To Emile Bernard. Arles, Sunday, 18 March 1888

 

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“I’ve had a line from Gauguin, who complains about the bad weather, is still unwell and says nothing vexes him more than lack of money among the variety of human ills, and yet he feels doomed to be broke for ever.  
Rain and wind these past few days, I’ve worked at home on the study of which I’ve made a croquis in Bernard’s letter. My aim was to give it colours like stained glass, and a design of solid outlines.”

To Theo. Arles, Wednesday, 21 or Thursday, 22 March 1888

 

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“Had some trouble with the sunset with figures and a bridge that I was talking to Bernard about. As the bad weather prevented me from working on the spot, I completely worked this study to death trying to finish it at home.

 

However, I started the same subject again immediately afterwards on another canvas, but as the weather was quite different, in a grey palette and without figures.
I wouldn’t think it a bad idea if you sent Tersteeg one of my studies — do you mean the Clichy bridge with the yellow sky and two houses reflected in the water?”

To Theo. Arles, on or about Sunday, 25 March 1888

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An interesting take on the fragment

 

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Painting, Oil on Canvas – 32.5 x 23 cm – Fragment
Arles: March 22, 1888
Private collection
F: 544, JH: 1369

Where Vincent Was:
Arles

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