Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890): Moulin de la Galette (The

Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890): Moulin de la Galette (The

10/13/2021, 9:39:07 AM
Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890): Moulin de la Galette (The Blute-Fin Windmill, Montmartre), 1886, Oil on paper, 61 x 50 cm, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina . . Vincent van Gogh came to paint this Moulin de la Galette (The Blute-Fin Windmill, Montmartre) in quite particular conditions that might well qualify as a transition, and the work fits within a series of views he produced of Paris. The Dutch artist arrived in France’s capital in March of 1886. There he contacted his brother Theo who had already spent seven years based in Paris, managing a small gallery on Montmartre Boulevard. “Moulin de la Galette” is understood to be the café-concert that actually stretched between two mills on Montmartre: the Blute-Fin mill and the Radet mill. Van Gogh concentrated in the painting on one of the two buildings involved in the café-concert: the Blute-Fin, an old construction made of wood, built in 1622 and still in operation grinding wheat. The point of view he chose for the mill—the rear part of the building—was not original in any way; at that time any number of painters (with which the Montmartre neighborhood was saturated) also chose it as a motif. We do know, however, that Van Gogh tried out various other views of the motif in order to better circumscribe it. The painting has an incredibly clear, fresh aspect, where vivid brushstrokes of blue leaning toward white dominate in very homogenous tones. The low-angle perspective employed by the artist generates a low horizon line that allows the grand, luminous sky to burst forth. Similarly, we can observe that Van Gogh selected a view that does not allow any of the diversion of the Moulin de la Galette to be detected. He clearly has a pictorial interest in the place, but also the desire to show a place of work on the border between the city and the countryside, in what was still one of Paris’ peripheral neighborhoods at the time, inhabited by humble folk. The couple seen to the lower right indicates scale but they are also modestly attired, almost dressed as peasants. Van Gogh slips a social dimension into this work that is particularly moving. (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes)

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