Rarely seen Van Gogh painting sells for more than $15 million at auction

This was the first time that 'Street Scene in Montmartre' had been seen by the public since it was created in 1887

FILE PHOTO: Sotheby's Paris employees pose with the 1887 painting of a Paris street scene "Scene de rue a Montmartre" by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh which will be presented to the public for the first time after spending more than a century behind closed doors in the private collection of a French family, France, February 24, 2021.  REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo
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A rarely seen painting by artist Vincent Van Gogh has sold at auction for $15.4 million.

Street Scene in Montmartre was one of the few works by the artist still owned by a private collector and was put on display, as part of the Sotheby's sale, for the first time since it was created in 1887. It sold for well above its estimate of between EUR5 million and EUR8 million.

This was one of more than 200 paintings created by Van Gogh during a two-year period that he spent in Paris. While it is acknowledged that Street Scene in Montmartre is not one of his best works, the period marks a turning point in the artist's career as he began exploring expressionist techniques and new uses of colour in the final years of his life, before his suicide in 1890 at the age of 37.

The painting captures one of the windmills that dotted Montmartre when it was just a village on the northern outskirts of Paris. A couple are seen strolling, while two children play in front of a wooden fence and leafless trees. The scene is depicted in the characteristic tan and brown tones of Van Gogh’s "Dutch palette", and punctuated by a bright red flag blowing above the mill.

The painting was the highlight of an auction of 33 works from masters including Degas, Magritte, Modigliani, Klee, Rodin and his muse Camille Claudel, sold in an auction live-streamed by Sotheby's in Paris.