A Manhattan antiques dealer has had a Gauguin painting hanging on his wall since the mid-1980s. He purchased the painting of summer flowers in a metal cup because he thought it was pretty and decided to hang it where he could look at it every day. For 30 years, he was blissfully unaware that he possessed a rare work by Paul Gauguin that is currently valued at around $1 million.

He recently consigned the painting to Litchfield County Auctions and it was at that point that the painting was linked to Paul Gauguin for the first time. Specialists recognized it as the little-known Fleurs d’été dans un gobelet, which features in the catalogue raisonné published by the Wildenstein Institute in 2001 and which had been lost for many years. In The Art Newspaper, Gauguin specialist Sylvie Crussard confirmed that the painting was the lost work. According to the listing in the catalogue raisonné, the painting was produced in 1885.

Until now, the only image of the still life was a black and white photograph taken in the 1940s in New York. The accompanying information sheet stated that it had a monogram and depicted poppies, cornflowers and lupines. Gauguin specialist Martine Heudron said, “The re-discovered work may be studied further to properly identify the flowers and their flowering season according to the climate, depending on whether they were painted in Denmark or France. Gauguin stayed with his Danish wife in Copenhagen from November 1884 to June 1885, before he went to Dieppe for three months.”

The catalogue raisonné also states that Gauguin’s wife sold the painting in 1907 to art dealer Ambroise Vollard. The Art Newspaper reports that it is believed to have been acquired by a Parisian collector before New Yorker Gilbert S. Kahn took possession of it in 1950. The current owner is said to have acquired it after that. A Sotheby’s sticker on the back seemed to indicate that the painting was by Paul Signac. The “PG” monogram was subsequently found by the director of the Litchfield auction house, leading to the identification of its true author.

Fleurs d’été dans un gobelet will be auctioned by Litchfield County Auctions on 29 June. The painting will be available for viewing in the auction house’s gallery several days prior. What a perfect opportunity to experience this work – and rejoice in the miracle of its finding!

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