BLOG POST March 11, 2019
Hemingway’s Joan Miró
The below statement of the history Joan Miró The Farmis taken, in large part, from the printout of the National Gallery of Art and its description of its provenance.
In all of my reading about Hemingway, I don’t have a clear impression as to whether or not he was a devoted art lover. I do know, though, that he loved the paint by Joan Miró called The Farm. It was painted on oil canvass in 1921-22 and Hemingway’s path crossed with Miró, Dali, Picasso during the Paris years of the 20s. Hemingway and Hadley (his wife at the time) acquired it somewhere toward the end of 1925. It’s not clear if their friend Evan Shipman had it previously. It stayed within Hemingway family until Mary Welsh Hemingway, Hemingway’s fourth wife and his wife at the time of his death, bequeathed it in 1987 to the National Gallery.
There is a bit of history and backstory, however. Hemingway wrote in a 1934 article that Evan Shipman originally wanted to buy it and then he reconsidered and thought Hemingway should have the painting. The story goes that the two rolled dice for it and Hemingway won purchasing the painting from Galerie Pierre by paying for it in monthly installments.
When Hemingway and Hadley divided their personalty when they were divorced in December 1926, Hemingway delivered the painting to Hadley (per Carlos Baker, Hemingway’s biographer). Hadley maintained the painting for a few years lending it on occasion to various exhibitions. In approximately 1934, Hemingway, who was then living in Key West, asked Hadley to lend it to him for a time and she did. Despite a bitter divorce, they were on good terms and co-parented their son Jack before co-parenting was a “thing.”
Hemingway then lent the painting to a Miró exhibit in New York and the painting was shipped back to Hemingway. He never returned it to Hadley despite requests by her. When he moved to Cuba in 1939/1940, the painting remained in his possession until his death in 1961.
When Hadley was interviewed by Alice Sokoloff she said, “Everyone Ernest married after me thought the Miró belonged to her.”
After Hemingway’s death, Hadley and Mary reached an agreement out of court through their lawyers. Mary paid Hadley in return for Hadley given up her claims to the painting. Mary bequeathed to the National Gallery.