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London gallery Connaught Brown has sold the 1884 oil on canvas Still Life with Bottles and a Cowrie Shell to the Noordbrabants Museum in the Netherlands.

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The painting, Still Life with Bottles and a Cowrie Shell, was a highlight at the London gallery’s stand during the recent TEFAF Maastricht fair (March 10-18) where it was priced in the region of €3.5m.

Now the painting joins the 's-Hertogenbosch museum’s growing selection of works from van Gogh’s Brabant-period as a highlight. The institution acquired two other early paintings by van Gogh in 2016 and 17.

The painting is one of 13 still-lifes the artist created in 1884 from his parents’ home in Nuenen. Until the recent sale it was one of only three from that group not housed in a museum collection.

During the period it was created, van Gogh had abandoned ventures to become an art dealer and lay preacher and was devoting himself to a career as an artist. He stayed at Nuenen for two years where he started working with oil on canvas, which he had previously been mostly unable to afford.

The rustic objects in this picture he sourced from the home of his pupil, Charles Hermans.

In a letter to his brother Théo the artist wrote: “Hermans possesses so many beautiful things, old pitchers and other antiques…. just today Hermans told me that if I wanted to paint for myself a picture of things that were still too difficult for him, I could take them with me to the studio…I shall make one for you, and will pick out the best things."