The relationship between Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh was volatile. It has been long assumed that the two simply didn't get along and didn't care for one another. However, long after van Gogh's death, Gauguin painted a tender tribute to van Gogh, entitled Nature Morte A L'Esperance. The painting went up for auction in February of 2011, and was expected to fetch nearly $16 million. However, at the end of the auction, no buyer was found and the painting was returned to the European collector that owns it.

Nature Morte A L'Esperance marks the culmination of a difficult relationship, and many elements of that relationship appear in this painting. Van Gogh dreamed of creating an art colony where he could surround himself with like-minded painters and artists and create a safe haven for the exchange of artistic ideas. Although many were invited to join, only Paul Gauguin showed up. Van Gogh was so excited about Gauguin's arrival that he painted a series of yellow sunflower paintings to decorate Gauguin's room. Gauguin admired these paintings, particularly in their use of yellow pigments. In fact, Gauguin even painted an image of van Gogh painting sunflowers. These sunflowers reappear prominently in Nature Morte A L'Esperance, smack in the center of the canvas. To the left of the canvas, a half-finished painting of a reclining nude appears, along with a charcoal sketch of the same. This may hint at the work the painters did during their time together at the colony, or this may be a more subtle suggestion of the rift that came between van Gogh and Gauguin. The two painters became involved with a prostitute and argued bitterly about what should be done to help and support her. Many quarrels were violent in nature, and the final argument resulted in the wounding of van Gogh's ear. Gauguin and van Gogh parted company soon after this incident.

It is unclear why Nature Morte A L'Esperance did not sell. The painting is quite famous, and has been shown multiple times around the world in Gauguin exhibits. The poor economy may have played a role, as investors may choose to keep their money close to them in case of emergency. It's possible the European investor will attempt to sell the painting again when the economy recovers. After all, it is well known that the market for Gauguin paintings is on the rise after the spectacular show of support from the public to the Gauguin exhibit at the Tate Modern last year.

In the interim, collectors low on funds should consider a new source for Gauguin artwork. At Cheap Oil Paintings, we have an extensive collection of paintings by Gauguin, all available for a reasonable price. Search our collection of Gauguin paintings. Our artists can create a lovely oil painting reproduction for a mere fraction of the cost. Collectors can purchase a painting reproduction from us and hang it with pride. Perhaps they'll replace the paintings with originals when funding becomes available, or perhaps they'll allow our oil painting reproduction to stay in a place of honor. Their guests and admirers may never know it's a reproduction, and we promise we won't tell.