Eugene Boch (1855 - 1941)
Monthyon - Paris
Eugene Boch was a Belgian painter, born in Saint-Vaast, Hainaut
in the 5th generation of the Boch family
that makes Ceramics since 1748.
His father Victor Boch operated
the company Boch Frères and his uncle Eugen von Boch
the company Villeroy & Boch.
Summer 1888 in Arles
In May 1888, van Gogh rented four rooms in a small building on 2 place Lamartine in Arles,
called "The Yellow House".
He intended to establish an artish colony, the studio of the South.
The portrait "The Poet" (Eugene Boch) was done in september 1888 in the Yellow House in Arles,
at the same time as Van Gogh did the portrait "The Lover" (Paul Eugene Milliet)
and his self portrait dedicated to Paul Gaugin
shortly before Gaugin arrived in Arles 21 october 1888.
a letter from Vincent van Gogh to Eugene Boch send from Arles 4 Oct 1888
more about this letter
Unlike Gaugins visit,
the time Eugene spent in Arles was a beautiful one.
It was also the period where Van Gogh painted
the different starry colours in the night paintings.
more about the night paintings from the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
Exchange of Paintings
The exchange of Eugene´s Painting "The mine of Crachet and Pecry" given to Vincent van Gogh
and Vincent van Gogh´s "The Alpilles" given to Eugene Boch has been documented
by Theo van Gogh
letters about the exchange of paintings
The Alpilles painting, today in the New York Guggenheim Museum
The Eugene Boch Portrait "The Poet"
... a "little" more than just a portrait by van Gogh
Van Gogh met the Belgian painter Eugène Boch in mid-June 1888,
while Boch was spending a few weeks near Arles.
Around 8 July, Vincent mentioned Boch in a letter to his brother Théo:
"I very much like the looks of this young man with his distinctive face,
like a razor blade, and his green eyes".
Behind his head, instead of painting the ordinary wall of this shabby appartment,
I will paint infinity,
I will do a simple background of the richest blue,
the most intense blue that I can create,
and through this simple combination of the bright head against this rich,
I will obtain a mysterious effect,
like a star in the depths of an azure sky".
September 18 1888 the Eugene Boch portrait called "The Poet" was done.
Van Gogh kept the painting above his bed, next to the portrait of
Paul Eugene Milliet called "The Lover"
as one can see in the Bedroom Painting
Concerning this portrait "The Poet" or "Le peintre aux Etoiles"
Eugene Boch had some nostalgic feelings about the painting
some time after Vincent van Gogh´s death
... came to the ears of
Johanna van Gogh Bonger,
the sister in Law of Vincent van Gogh (died 29 july 1890)
and also the widow of Theo van Gogh (died 25 january 1891) .
23 July 1891
she wrote to Eugene Boch:
"I have heared that you would like to have the portrait,
which Vincent has painted about you in Arles in 1888.
It would be a pleasure for me to give it to you as a souvenir
of the two brothers,
as I know about the affection you had for them"
When Eugene died in his house Villa La Grimpette in Monthyon 3 Jan 1941
his sister Elisa Blondel, born Boch was there ...
she noted in her diary:
"It was during the rough winter 1940-41.
After Dec 26 1940 my brother had to stay in bed.
The phonelines were cut, there was too much snow on the roads to go anywhere.
There was no possibility to leave the house, or to call a doctor.
When Eugene couldn´t moove or talk any more,
his views were fixed on the portrait Van Gogh had painted of him.
He looked at it with admiration,
as if would have liked to say: "How beautiful it is
and how much I would have liked to be able to paint it !"
.... in other (todays) words
as if they had been in Love.
Friend´s of Eugene Boch
Eugene met many of his painter friends
at the Atelier Corman
The American Artist Dodge Mac Knight
introduced Eugene to Vincent van Gogh in the summer of 1888
Emile Bernard was another common friend of Eugene Boch and Vincent van Gogh.
Eugene had met Emile in the Atelier Cormon Painting class in Paris
and in early years he sponsored his work so that he ended up
owning many paintings, his sister Anna Boch one.
Emile Bernard received many letters from Van Gogh
and after his death of van Gogh, Emile Bernard contributed a lot to make Vincent famous
by organising the first expositions of his paintings.
The common friendship to Vincent van Gogh
was a link for Eugene Boch and Emile and they stayed in contact all their life.
Emile Bernard stayed many times in Eugene Boch´s house,
La Villa La Grimpette.
Paul Gauguin and Eugene Boch, coming soon
Henri Toulouse Lautrec and Eugene Boch, coming soon
Pauz Cezanne and Eugene Boch, coming soon
Eugene Boch´s cultural heritage
In the 10 generations of the Boch family,
there have always been,
... some Business People
... and some Artists.
Many times the family´s artistic potential has been used
for the benefit of the company.
... the One did not understand the Others
Destiny of Eugene and Anna´s Art Collection
Eugene and Anna Boch were unconventional and non conformist
which annoyed some cousins of their age
around the company seat in Mettlach, Germany.
After the death of their uncle Eugen von Boch
Due to Eugene and Anna´s friendship with many artists,
and their desire to sponsor artists with no money,
they built up two of the most important collections of Impressionist Art of their times.
When they passed away in 1936 and 1941
the Eugene Boch collection
and the Anna Boch collection
Only 25 years and 2 generations later, in the 1960s
Luitwin von Boch took the initiative to save what was left from their cultural heritage.
Luitwin von Boch, 7th generation, was very charismatic.
When he became CEO of Villeroy & Boch he was only 25
the company was struggeling ...
Over the years,
during his 40 year long presidency,
he multiplied the company´s value
over and over again,
by more than a 100 times !
Logo designed around 1950 for Luitwin von Boch
inspired the later creation of the Air France Logo
He saw the importance to maintain
the almost forgotten
of his uncle Eugene and his aunt Anna ...
He hired Dr Thérèse Thomas, a young historian,
to research information.
In the late 1960´s he was able to buy some of Eugene´s
and many of Anna´s paintings
... with the idea
to make a Museum in Mettlach, Germany.
Due to a complicated "viager" contract most of the paintings only arrived in 1992,
4 years after his death in 1988,
so Luitwin von Boch did not have the time to realize the Museum ....
It is planned to open a permanent expo in April 2011.
Apparently Eugene Boch´s collection included several Van Gogh paintings,
more than what is actually known to the public:
He received one painting when exchanging artworks between "painter friends",
other paintings might have been given to him by Vincent as presents.
Presents by affection or presence by gratitude ...
In the older generations of the Boch family it was a tradition
to support friends in financial needs,
without ever talking about it.
It would surprise the editor of this website
if "uncle" Eugene had not been a discrète financial support
for Vincent in between
the summer 1888 until the end of his life.
with his late aunt Helen von Boch,
the family´s most talented designer
and the "cash cow" of the 1970s.
Amazing stories about multiple Van Gogh paintings.
Was it her imagination or was it based
on some details she knew from older generations ?
Helen knew a lot from from history as she grew up in the design studios.
Many did not understand her ...
... but if she was right ?
Unfortunately the editor of the site did not listen more carefully at the time ...
He always knew about 2 van Gogh paintings,
"The poet" and "The Red Vineyard"
but while making the website he found 2-3 more ...
Johanna van Gogh Bogner,
widow of Vincent van Gogh´s brother Theo
and in later years friend of Eugene Boch
As already mentioned Eugene Boch received his portrait done by Vincent van Gogh
as a present from Johanna van Gogh Bogner.
what happened to the other paintings
owned by Johanna van Gogh ?
The Art Collection was located in Eugene´s house,
La Villa La Grimpette in Monthyon, France
Many information on the destiny of Eugene Boch´s amazing collection is missing ....
In 1914 his house La Villa La Grimpette was used
as a Seat for the Etat Major of the French Army fighting against the Germans
... which might not have helped the paintings.
to the Villa La Grimpette ?
What happened to the paintings ?
Eugene´s favorite painting however got to it´s destination,
as had wanted it.
In his own will he passed on the present he got
from Vincent & Johanna van Gogh
to the van Gogh Lovers of the World
by giving it to the Louvre.
As he was very discrete,
too shy to promote himself.
Not many people might think about him any more today ...
Just like van Gogh,
he never received much recognition in his lifetime ....
During his long life it was his joy
to notice his friend Vincent becoming
more and more famous,
By giving the portrait to the Louvre,
that had already died back in 1890,
51 years before Eugene,
and that had expressed the desire to paint Eugene as beautiful as he could,
like a star in the depths of an azure sky
made him become famous
on his turn
... after his own death
now , 70 years later, this little website might contribute a little ...