The first to be unveiled was a Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) Parisian scene that will be offered at Sotheby’s Paris on March 25 with a €5m-8m estimate.
Scène de rue à Montmartre from 1887 depicts the famous Moulin de la Galette – a former windmill that had operated as a guinguette (a restaurant, drinking and dancing venue) for over half-a-century by the time the artist painted this picture.
During this period van Gogh was living with his brother Theo in Paris on the Rue Lepic. He became fascinated by the peculiar mix of pastoral and urban atmosphere in Montmartre where the disused windmill and its grounds became a place of leisure where Parisians and tourists would mingle and enjoy lively evening cabarets.
The artist is believed to have completed around 200 works during his Montmartre period although few remain in private hands. This one has remained in the same family collection for over 100 years, and despite having been published in seven catalogues, it has never been exhibited until now.
The 18in x 2ft (46 x 61cm) oil on canvas shows the Moulin de la Galette from the Impasse des Deux Frères with the entrance of the enclosure topped with decorative lanterns and a carousel visible behind the wooden palisades.
The mill lasted until 1911 when it was destroyed during the construction of Avenue Junot.
Meanwhile Bonhams has announced the consignment of a 1937 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) portrait of his muse and lover Marie-Thérèse Walter.
Femme au Béret Mauve will be offered at an Impressionist and Modern Art sale in New York on May 13 with an estimate of $10m-15m. It has not been seen in public since it was bought by the current owners in 1984 from a New York gallery.
At the time it was painted, Marie-Thérèse had been the artist’s mistress for the previous 10 years and had given birth to their daughter Maya two years earlier. Although his wife Olga had left him in 1935 after a friend had informed her about the artist’s relationship with Marie-Thérèse, Picasso had also begun an affair with Dora Maar, a surrealist photographer who became his model, and was dividing his time between the different women in his life.
Molly Ott Ambler, Bonhams senior vice-president and head of Impressionist, Modern, European and American art in America, said: “This bright, joyous portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter exudes stability and calm at a time when Picasso’s personal life was in turmoil and all of Europe was living under the shadow of impending war. Family life with Marie-Thérèse and their daughter Maya represented a refuge of serenity and sensuality so wonderfully captured in this work.”