The LA Times reported yesterday that the J. Paul Getty Museum has acquired its first painting by Paul Gauguin, "Arii Matamoe (The Royal End)," painted in 1892 during the painter's first trip to Tahiti. It is planned to go on view in early April. Museum director Michael Brand is quoted as saying, "We had a clear need for a great painting by Gauguin to accompany our Post-Impressionist masterpieces by van Gogh and Cézanne." The Getty already has two of Gauguin's drawings and a sculpted wood self-portrait.
The Getty owns "only" one van Gogh painting, but if you can own only one, it might as well be the exquisite "Irises" of May 1889, painted early in Vincent's stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole at Saint-Rémy. The Getty acquired it in March 1990 in a special deal brokered with Sotheby's, following a bit of a convoluted snafoo between Sotheby's and a collector who had bought it in 1987 at a Sotheby's auction. Neither the purchase price of the van Gogh nor the purchase price of the new Gauguin have been revealed by the museum.