“Le Moulin à Poivre” (Paris. April 1887) [F349]By Vincent van Gogh, (Dutch, 1853-1890)

“Le Moulin à Poivre” (Paris. April 1887) [F349]
By Vincent van Gogh, (Dutch, 1853-1890)

oil on canvas; 55 x 38.5 cm; 21 1/2 x 15 1/4 in.

© Sold through Dickinson Gallery, London. March 2014

In 1906, the year after the Amsterdam show at the Stedelijk Museum, Johanna gave the picture to the painter Isaac Israëls, the man who had been her lover following her husband’s death. He gave her a portrait in exchange. Following Israels’s death in 1934, the increasingly valuable painting passed through more than one collection before Charles Engelhard, the flamboyant president of the Engelhard Minerals and Chemicals Corporation, bought it in 1958.

In June 1886, Vincent and Theo moved to an apartment at 54, rue Lepic, which overlooked the three windmills of Montmartre. From west to east: the Moulin de Blute-Fin, the Moulin Radet, the Moulin à Poivre (also known as the Moulin Debray). 

The windmills were no longer functioning by then, and instead the area had been turned into a popular social hub, the famed Moulin de La Galette.

The only two remaining windmills today are the Radet and the Blute-Fin, the latter’s name from the verb ‘bluter’ which means “to sieve” or ‘to sift’. These windmills, together with gardens and farm, made up the Moulin de la Galette.

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