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This delightful landscape artwork by Piet Mondrian was completed in 1907. The item came up for sale at auction as recently as 2016 and realised a price much higher than its original estimate.
We find here an expressive landscape which captures the beauty of the Netherlands. The artist worked mainly as a landscape painter whilst in his twenties and was also developing his talents as a portrait painter during this decade. Mondrian adored the Netherlands landscape and found much to inspire him, though his work from this period has often been forgotten by those focusing on his major achievements. A relatively recent publication brought together all known works from his career and this enabled us to get a better, more rounded understanding of his oeuvre for the first time. Interest in his landscape paintings tends to be strongest in his native Netherlands, where many can recognise the locations that he featured more than a century ago. There is an open atmosphere to this piece that might remind some of the work of Edvard Munch, another who loved to express themselves artistically. He became better known for portraiture, but his atmospheric landscapes were also highly regarded, with examples including Moonlight and Starry Night 1922-1924.
Three haystacks lean in from either side of the painting, though allowing a small window in between which extends our view across the horizon and into the distance. The haystacks themselves are dark brown in tone and without significant detail, almost serving as walls or fences but in a more natural manner. The artist places small tones of blue within the brown which are not immediately obvious unless viewing the painting in person. In the foreground we find some fairly loosely painted green fields without major details, and a darker line across the very bottom of the canvas, perhaps suggesting a boundary around the field to allow for a footpath on which the artist is sat. Beyond the tall haystacks we then find a bright and expressive sky, which is perhaps where the comparisons to Munch come from. Colour is vibrant in this part of the work and Mondrian allows more than half of the painting to be given over to the sky, underlining its importance within Three Haystacks in a Field.
As mentioned previously, the artwork was put up for sale in 2016 at Sotheby's and was listed as being from the collection of Dr JFS Esser in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Several items from this same collection were sold off at the same time. This painting was given a valuation guide of 50-70,000 Euros for the auction, but actually achieved a high sale price of 103,500 Euros on sale day. This underlines the interest in Mondrian himself, almost regardless of which ever painting is actually involved and there continues to be strong interest in his lesser known paintings, even though his abstract work continues to hold the most value of all. The sale listed this piece as being 36 x 47 cm in size and also used the date of circa 1907, as many of his early pieces cannot be confidently dated because he would not have taken detailed records of his work until he started to become more famous.