Van Gogh painting sells for $40m
05.05.2006 BBC News
Both Van Gogh and Gaugin used the local people in Arles as models
A painting by Vincent Van Gogh has sold at auction in New York for more than $40m (£22m).
L'Arlesienne, Madame Ginoux commanded the fourth highest price on record for a work by the renowned Dutch artist.
The 1890 painting was one in a series of five created in homage to Van Gogh's friend, the artist Paul Gauguin.
Madame Marie Ginoux owned a cafe in Arles, France where both artists lived briefly. It was during this period that Van Gogh cut off his own ear.
The painting was created while the artist recovered at an asylum in Provence, France.
Writing to Gauguin in 1890, Van Gogh said of his work: "It gives me enormous pleasure when you say the Arlesienne's portrait, which was based strictly on your drawing, is to your liking.
"I tried to be respectfully faithful to your drawing, while nevertheless taking the liberty of interpreting, through the medium of colour, the sober character and the style of the drawing in question.
"It is a synthesis of the Arlesiennes, if you like; as syntheses of the Arlesiennes are rare, take this as a work belonging to you and me as a summary of our months of work together."
Other works which went under the hammer at the Christie's sale in New York included Picasso's portrait of his ballerina wife Olga Khokhlova, entitled Le Repos.
The painting fetched $34.7m (£19.3m), well in excess of its reserve price of up to $20m (£11.1m).
Created in 1932, it sheds light on Picasso's tempestuous relationship with Khokhlova.