Montblanc’s new Masters of Art Collection honours the contribution of great artists. The first collection of this new series pays tribute to the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, through five limited-edition designs that recall the personal and artistic highlights from his life. Each design is available as a fountain pen and a rollerball version.
The new Masters of Art series is the successor to Montblanc’s Patron of Art Collection series which concluded last year, after a 30-year run, with the Victoria & Albert Collection. This new series is dedicated to prominent visual artists from a broad range of disciplines – from painting and sculpture to design and architecture – and covering different epochs – from the Renaissance to the Modern.
Each edition in this series will have a design limited to 161 pieces, in honour of the golden ratio (Phi), whose numerical value is 1.61. The writing instruments in this set will bear the Phi symbol embossed on the gold nib.
The Vincent van Gogh Masters of Art collection was conceived in cooperation with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Housing the world’s largest collection of Vincent’s art with over 200 paintings, close to 500 drawings and more than 700 letters, it is considered the foremost centre of expertise on the Dutch painter.
The five designs in the Vincent van Gogh Collection are unified by several motifs that run throughout the collection, with slight variations. Vincent was a collector and lifelong admiration of Japanese woodblock prints. Therefore, the silhouette of every pen in the collection resembles the Japanese wood-cutting knife called hangi-toh, used for making woodblock prints. The shape of the barrel and its cone recalls hangi-toh’s cutting blade.
The multi-colour lacquer-filled minuscule engravings encircling the base of the forepart is a nod to the coloured yarns Vincent used to test colour combinations, a testament to his deep understanding of colour theory. The barrel ring bears an engraved ‘Vincent’ signature, which, in some cases, is filled with coloured lacquer.
Vincent’s prized palette knife, used to create his famed impasto style, inspired the shape of the writing instrument’s clip. Meanwhile, its top replicates the smoking pipe that Vincent loved to indulge in. The angular line of the cap-top design draws inspiration from the triangular subdivisions of Vincent’s perspective frame, a tool which helped him create a realistic portrayal of landscapes. Vincent’s signature brushwork is stylised in the lacquer pattern of the cap top.
The Vincent van Gogh Limited Edition 4810 (limited to 4810 pieces) celebrates Vincent van Gogh’s time in Arles, in southern France, where he fell in love with the sun-drenched landscapes. The barrel, therefore, is decorated in shades of yellow and orange. The platinum-coated barrel ring bears the ‘Vincent’ signature in orange lacquer. Adjacent to it, an ‘1888’ engraving commemorates the year he moved to Arles.
The cap is made from hornbeam wood, as a token of Vincent’s admiration for Japanese woodblock prints. Adjacent to the Montblanc emblem in yellow, we find ‘Borinage’ engraved in reference to the Belgian coal mining town where Vincent lived as a lay preacher.
Embossed on the gold rhodium-coated nib is a sunflower pattern recalling the series of five sunflower paintings from this period. The clip is platinum-coated, while the cap top is in yellow lacquer. The “pipe’s bowl” on the clip is filled with yellow resin.
The Limited Edition 888 evokes the artist’s time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Auvers-sur-Oise, which followed his time in Arles. Thus, the ‘Saint-Rémy’ engraving on the cap top. Paintings from this period inspired the colour composition of the top. The blue skies and golden wheatfields are reflected in translucent lacquer inlays in different shades of blue and yellow gold skeleton overlay. The cap top complements with its blue lacquer patterns and the Montblanc emblem in yellow gold.
The barrel features stars shining brightly on the night skies over the wheatfields, represented by sparkling particles in the blue lacquer. Adjacent to Vincent’s blue lacquer-filled signature is the engraving ‘1889,’ recalling the year he moved to Saint-Rémy. The image embossed on the gold nib immortalises ‘Almond Blossom,’ the painting Vincent produced to commemorate the birth of the nephew who shared his name. The clip is platinum-coated, while the pipe’s bowl is adorned with a yellow citrine.
Limited Edition 161 captures the artist’s final years in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Auvers-sur-Oise with design details reflecting his last work, Tree Roots, among others. The sterling silver barrel is decorated with lacquer inlays inspired by the design and colours from Tree Roots, which depicts a group of trees with their roots exposed by erosion on the side of a hill. The solid gold barrel ring has ‘1890’ engraved to register the year he painted Tree Roots.
Vincent’s ‘Wheatfield and Cypresses’ depicts an impetuous sky over a landscape full of movement. Vincent painted this view from the asylum in Saint-Rémy three times. His drawing of the same view, made with pencil, reed-pen and pen-and-ink, is interpreted in the engraving on the sterling silver cap. The Montblanc emblem in solid gold, and embedded in a blue field, echoes the bright stars often found in his works. The cap-top design is in red lacquer, while the pen’s clip is adorned with a citrine stone.
The Limited Edition 90 takes us back to Arles, to pay homage to Vincent’s impasto technique. As seen in his work ‘The Harvest,’ the impasto style involves applying thick paint in rough strokes to create a topography of coloured layers. This technique has been interpreted by hand in the artwork adorning the cap and barrel, using the colours often used by Vincent: yellows, oranges and greens. Each pen in this edition, therefore, is unique in the way the strokes of colour fuse together, giving this edition the quality of a painted canvas.
‘Arles’ is engraved on the cap top. The Montblanc emblem in yellow gold outline is filled with orange lacquer and surrounded by a field of blue lacquer. The year ‘1888’ is engraved alongside the ‘Vincent’ signature on the golden barrel ring. Vincent is known to have painted 35 self-portraits during his life; one of these, entitled “Self Portrait with Straw Hat,” inspired the engraving on the forepart. His five sunflower paintings inspired the embossing on the handcrafted yellow gold nib. The yellow gold-coated clip has a fire opal set into the pipe’s bowl.
Finally, we have the Vincent van Gogh Limited Edition 8, as a testament to the breathtaking blue skies and brush style that have made Vincent’s work ‘Wheatfield with Crows’ a true masterpiece. The jewel-like quality of this sky is captured in the blue lacquer artwork on the solid gold cap and barrel. The latter is partly set with brilliant-cut diamonds and enhanced with swirling engravings that echo the movements of Vincent’s brush over the canvas. The sky imagery continues on the cap top, where a hand-painted field of intense blue lacquer edged with brilliant-cut diamonds frames the Montblanc diamond at the centre in a gold setting.
The cap features an elaborate handcrafted marquetry design inlaid onto white gold, rhodium-coated and composed of tiny pieces of mother-of-pearl, sycamore, tulip tree, beetle elytra and straw. Sapphires, Paraiba tourmalines and brilliant-cut diamonds set around the marquetry inlay intensify its vividness.
A hand-engraved quote from Vincent’s letter to his brother, Theo, which runs along the surface of the barrel and cone reads: ‘Le tableau me vient comme dans un rêve’ or ‘The painting comes to me as if in a dream.’ Vincent’s ‘Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat,’ inspired the engraving on the forepart. His engraved ‘Vincent’ signature is filled with blue lacquer. The pipe’s bowl is set with a blue sapphire.
Writing accessories accompanying the collection include a notebook that takes its outer design from the sun-filled landscape of Wheatfield, with a Reaper created in 3D-print to recall Vincent’s impasto technique. The notebook’s cover is adorned with his signature. The soothing turquoise of his work Almond Blossom has inspired the new Montblanc ink in a shade of Turquoise.