Vincent van Gogh - Portrait of Joseph Roulin 1889

Vincent van Gogh Portrait of Joseph Roulin 1889

Portrait of Joseph Roulin 1889
64x55cm oil/canvas
Sold for: USD 58.0 million plus exchange of works (The paintings transferred to the dealers include a late Monet entitled Corona (Water Lilies) from around 1920; Renoir's Reclining Nude of 1902, Kandinsky's Autumn Landscape, Murnau from 1908, and Picasso's Striped Bodice from September 1943.)
Auction house: Private sale via Thomas Ammann, Fine Art Zurich
Sale date: 1 August 1989
Seller: Private collection, Zürich
Buyer: Museum of Modern Art New York

From Museum of Modern Art New York:
Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo of his excitement about “the modern portrait,” a picture that renders character not by the imitation of the sitter’s appearance but through the independent, vivid life of color. Van Gogh’s subject in this painting, Joseph Roulin, worked for a post office in the French town of Arles. He was not a letter carrier but rather held a higher position as an official sorting mail at the train station. Van Gogh and Roulin lived on the same street and became close friends. Van Gogh painted many portraits of Roulin. This picture, which van Gogh boasted of having completed quickly, in a single session, was painted after Roulin got a better-paying job and left Arles. Some scholars think that this portrait was not painted from life but rather from memory or from previous portraits.