The Portrait of Dr. Gachet

The Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Story Van Gogh’s Last Portrait Modernism Money polits Collectors Dealers Taste G

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  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140254877
  • 448 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


At a star-studded auction in 1990, a painting was sold for the record-breaking price of $82.5 million. That painting, Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet, has seemed to countless admirers to portray our times as "something bright in spite of its inevitable griefs."

This fascinating book reconstructs the painting’s journey and becomes a rich story of modernist art and the forces behind the art market. Masterfully evoked are the lives of the thirteen extraordinary people who owned the painting and shaped its history: avant-garde European collectors, pioneering dealers in Paris and Berlin, a brilliant medievalist who acquired it for one of Germany’s great museums, and a member of the Nazi elite who sold it after it had been confiscated as a work of "degenerate art." Remarkable and riveting, The Portrait of Dr. Gachet illuminates, in dramatic detail, the dynamics of the art market and of culture in our time.

The Portrait of Dr. Gachet

The Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Written by: Cynthia Saltzman


Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award – winner

Table of Contents

The Canvas
Prologue: Sacred and Profane

I. “The Heartbroken Expression of Our Time”
1. Van Gogh: Dealer, Preacher, and Painter, 1853-1886
2. Paris, 1886-1887
3. Arles, 1888-1889
4. Saint-Rémy, May 8, 1889-May 16, 1890
5. Auvers: Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, 1890
6. The Portrait of Dr. Gachet

II. Northern Europe and the First Modernist Collectors
The International Avant-Garde and the Market
7. Paris: Theo van Gogh, 1891
8. Amsterdam: Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, 1891-1896
9. Copenhagen: The Danish Secession, 1893
10. Paris: Ambrois Vollard, 1897
11. Copenhagen: Alice Ruben, 1897-1904
12. Copenhagen: Mogens Ballin, 1897-1904

III. The “Other” Germany
Modern Art, German Nationalism, and the Making of the Modern Museum
13. Berlin: Paul Cassirer, 1904
14. Weimar: Harry Kessler, 1904-1908
15. Frankfurt: The Old Master Museum and the New Portrait, 1911-1919
16. Frankfurt: Museum Masterpiece, 1920-1933

IV. Modern Art and the Third Reich
Propaganda, Confiscation, and Export
17. Frankfurt: “Degenerate Art,” 1933-1938
18. Berlin: Hermann Göring and Foreign Currency, 1938
19. Amsterdam: Passage to Exile—Franz Koenigs and Sigfried Kramarsky, 1938-1940
V. Postwar New York
20. New York: Refugee, 1941
21. “Exactly How Great a Painter Was He?” 1950s-1970s
22. Postwar Frankfurt

VI. The 1980s
23. The Metropolitan Museum and the New van Gogh, 1984-1990
24. The Sunflowers, 1987
25. Museum to Auction, February to May 14, 1990
26. Portrait of Melancholy at Auction, May 15, 1990

VII. Japan
27. 12.4 Billion Yen

Selected Bibliography