NEW YORK—The Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller Müller Museum, both in Amsterdam, jointly purchased an early drawing by Vincent van Gogh in late August. Amid rising prices for artworks as well as the costs of storing, maintaining and transporting such works, a number of museums have opted to join forces in recent years—rather than compete with one another—to acquire important works of art. The museums called the work “a remarkable addition to our respective collections.”
The circa 1880 drawing is a copy of a work by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98-1543), entitled The Daughter of Jacob Meyer (after Bargue after Holbein), which the artist made in Belgium at the start of his career. Few of his works from this period have survived. In 1880 van Gogh began copying prints from works by Jean-François Millet (1814-75). An art dealer loaned him a drawing guide as well as a two-part Cours de dessin, by artist Charles Bargue, that included 28 works by Holbein. Van Gogh copied these a number of times during the course of a year, but only three survive, two of them versions of the Daughter of Jacob Meyer.
The new acquisition, drawn entirely in pencil, is the earliest version of the work, the Van Gogh Museum affirms. The second surviving version—a pen-and-ink drawing over a rudimentary pencil sketch—is currently in the Kröller Müller Museum. The Van Gogh Museum called the purchase an “important acquisition,” noting that the institution had not previously possessed any copies from Bargue representing van Gogh’s early period. The museums have drawn up a mutual agreement concerning care of the drawing.
The joint purchase was funded entirely by the BankGiro Lottery, the Dutch lottery for culture and welfare that annually transfers 50 percent of its funds to charities in the Netherlands, including the Van Gogh and Kröller Müller museums.