VAN GOGH’S MOUSMÉ AT AUCTION BY CHRISTIE’S; WHO WAS THE GIRL? DISCOVERY OF TWO ITALIAN EXPERTS

MONDAY 1ST MARCH, CHRISTIE’S NEW YORK WILL AUCTION THE VAN GOGH MOUSME’ DRAWING. TWO ITALIAN EXPERTS HAVE MAYBE IDENTIFIED WHO WAS THE PORTRAITED GIRL.

According to what emerged up to date, based on archive documents and genealogy of Bouquet and Berlatier families, we can affirm that Grabrielle Berlatier, 19 years old celebrated the 7th October 1888, cannot be identified as the young woman portraited on Sunday 29th July 1888 by van Gogh, as the Mousmè, and maybe even not in which met the the 9th August together the mother, because from a letter to the brother Theo, he said she could had been at least 14 years old. The Berlatier family group photo, shot in front of the house door at no 45 of Impasse de la rue de la porte de Laure, at least between March and Summer 1888, do not help to solve the enigma, because it is not possible to understand if the two women in the center are the Mousmè in black or the … in black azur, visiting the Berlatier, or Gabrielle Berlatier and her mother. The two families knew each other and Gabrielle cousins lived close to the old mill in rue Mireille and were aware of the aggression to the girl, as demonstrated by a letter to Theo of 10th July 1888, in which Vincent, after the first pirtrait sits of the Mousmè, talks of the Pasteur Institut and rageous dogs. A thing is certain: the 2 women are the same because of physical and dresses details to whose described by van Gogh in a letter to Theo of 9th August 1888, making a comparison with the milk seller by Vermeer: ” I must go to work. The day before yesterday I saw again something very calm and nice, a girl with the skin cafe au lait – if I well remember- grey hair, grey eyes. An Indian corsage pale rose under which sein could be seen little and stark. This against the green smarag of the fige trees. A very rough woman, of great virginal fashionation. It not unprobably that I will ask her to pose on open air as well as the mother – gardener – hearth coloured, at the time dressed in dust yellow and vanishing bleu. The carnation cafe au lait of the girl was more dark of the rose cordage. The mother was outstanding, as for the dust yellow dress and vanishing bleu, facing a background of full sun and a square of brilliant white flowers of snow and lemon. As for that a real van der Meer of Delft. It is not ugly at lunch time. Shake of hands to t. Vincent “. It is what stated by the Italian experts Antonio De Robertis ed Emanuele Della Bella. After several years of searches they have concluded that there are two possibilities for its identification. One has been given by Bernadette Murphy in her book published in July 2016, as Marie Thérèse Balmossiere, that was the housewife chosen by Vincent for cleaning of the yellow house from July 1888 to February 1889 and had a parental link at large with Ginoux. But there is another possibility, discovered by the two experts, that comes out from the fact that the old rue Mireille mill, depicted by Vincent in September 1888, from the years 30 of XX Century (maybe as the result After an accurate search of John Rewald, based on photos and published in ARTnews Magazine no 1 of 14 April 1942) is commonly known in Arles as the vieux moulin de la Mousmè, but nobody had precised the motivation. Yet in 2016 De Robertis found the memories of an old lady, Michele Defonte, that in an Arles periodical newspaper , the “Bulletin des amis du vieil Arles ” no 135 of December 2007 , fully dedicated to van Gogh, reported that she lived when she was a child in the quarter of Moulheries, around 1948, and that the mill was inhabited at the time by the Bouquet family, with the 3 sons, of the same age as her.She remembered even that in 1956 she assisted, as adolescent, to the tornage of the film Wishing of living, by Vicente Minnelli, performed by Kirk Douglas and Anthony Queen, filmed just in front of the old mill. Information confirmed by the facts and in a scene of this film, where Vincent comes definitely out fron his ex room in the Hotel Carrel, that was located in rue de la Cavalerie no 30.A poetic license of the film maker Minnelli. So that the two experts discover that the name Bouquet is yet linked to the mill in documents dating back to 1830, when it was described as property of Sauchon family. The family name Bouquet is quite commonly frequent in Arles, but scrolling down the genealogy, it comes evident the subject of a certain Rose Françoise Bouquet, born in 1874, daughter of Pierre François Bouquet, farmer. For that reason she was right 14 years old in 1888 and she was orphan of mother at the age of 5 and the father remarried with a more young woman, that in 1888 was 43, her …. Rose Françoise never got married and had no sons. But she had also a cousine, Jeanne Baptistine, aged 14/15 years old in 1888, daughter of Pierre Gilles , employee in the railway of Marthe Bouquet. She had two sons, a female died at the time of birth and a male. One of these two cousines of first degree is most probably the Mousmè. They had also a hount Antoine Bouquet, also him railway employee. It is obvious that those men were customers of the Café de la Gare of the Ginoux couple, where Vincent was hosted, day and night, the most from 10 March to September, when he definitely moved in the yellow house. Paradoxically in the Mousmè portrait, the young girl has in her hands an oleander bouquet and had a grandmother named Oreille. De Robertis and Della Bella wish to continue their searches, because a final coup de theatre can be expected… In fact in an anonymous letter was sent to Central Commissioner Joseph d’Ornano on 7th November 1888, and alerted that the maitresse of the bordel 1, Virginie Chabaud known as Tarasconnaise, inducted to prostitution a “little provençal ” aged 16 years old, in danger of venereal disease (the document is still available in the Police Archives).And if the young prostitute, hidden under the name of Rachel imposed by the criminal madame Chabaud, that was making her working in black, could be one if the two, the Mousmè or Gabrielle? This dualism of superposition of the two young women, doing aldo to the age between 14, 16 and 18 years, could be the cause of making in mistake and confusion the other experts studying the case. Even De Robertis and Della Bella are prudently moving in this complex search, and with an eventail of possible solutions. The truth is anyway close and available.In future De Robertis and Della Bella have in mind to make a documentary on this subject.

For more information, please consult the group Facebook (click on the LA FINESTRA DI VAN GOGH), where are posted a lot of archive documents.

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Nikla

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