Tucked away behind an anonymous black gloss-painted front door in a Georgian terrace, just a stone’s throw from the exclusive emporia of New Bond Street and Savile Row
can be found a small art gallery currently housing an outstanding exhibition.
Van Gogh in Paris (at the Eykyn Maclean gallery until November 29th) brilliantly illustrates this seminal period in Vincent Van Gogh’s artistic development. Focusing on the brief period between 1886 and 1888 when Van Gogh left the flatlands of his native Holland to stay with his brother Theo (who was an art dealer in the French capital), this is a small but totally engrossing exhibition.
The gallery has put together an absorbing display which charts Van Gogh’s experiments and developing style. Moving in a new milieu, attending the 1886 Impressionist Exhibition and soirees at Toulouse-Lautrec’s house, at the same time absorbing influences from many sources, (including George Seurat and Paul Signac’s development of the pointillist technique) Van Gogh’s tragically short career was significantly enhanced by this sojourn in the City of Light.
Influenced by his exposure to other painters already established in Paris including Monet and Pissarro, the muted, sombre colours of works such as The Potato Eaters gave way to the development of the brilliant colours and expressive style which was to precede his move to Provence. Van Gogh himself perhaps underestimated these influences but this period in Paris would also lead to a particularly significant meeting with a painter closely connected to his future: Paul Gauguin. Fittingly, Gauguin’s portrait of his daughter Aline is exhibited here.
The paintings are on loan from private collections and a self-portrait from December 1886 is centrally placed, engaging the visitor directly. The Moulin de Blute Fin has some resonance with the subdued palette of his early work along with A Pair of Shoes, One Shoe Upside Down but the broader brush strokes and lighter palette quickly become apparent.
Also on display are paintings from Van Gogh’s contemporaries including Toulouse Lautrec, Monet and Signac as well as works by Hiroshige, the Japanese artist much admired by Van Gogh.
This is an outstanding opportunity to see works rarely shown in public and to glimpse the development of an artist whose talent was only truly recognised after his untimely death.
The exhibition Van Gogh in Paris runs until November 29th at The Eykyn Maclean Gallery, 30 Saint George Street, London W1S 2FH. Entrance is free but strictly by timed ticket which may be obtained from Eventbrite.co.uk