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Van Gogh’s Lost Print

Part 2: An important acquisition by the Courtauld

It is thought that after Van Gogh’s death his brother Theo gave the print (together with Scene from a Genji Parody by Taiensai Yoshimaru, also in the Courtauld’s collection) to Dr Paul Gachet in recognition of the latter’s treatment of the artist at the end of his life. Gachet’s son Paul Jnr inherited the prints and sold them to a Paris dealer where they were acquired by the art historian Douglas Cooper. Cooper donated the two prints to the Courtauld in 1957.

Although Geishas in a Landscape does not have great intrinsic value, the fact that it belonged to Van Gogh gives it art historical importance. The Courtauld’s photograph of the print clearly shows that the corners are damaged from the frequent use of drawing-pins Van Gogh used to fix it to the wall, making it easily identifiable.

The Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery will be displaying the photograph of Geishas in a Landscape beside Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear, together with the surviving print Scene from a Genji Parody, from 7 February to 31 March 2005 in the hope that the lost print may be rediscovered and returned. To help in the search, the Courtauld is also producing a postcard of the print with an appeal for help in its recovery printed onto the verso.

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