Recent Acquisitions at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

15/5/12 - Acquisitions - Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum - This Dutch museum had not acquired a Van Gogh work in the last five years (see news item of 10/1/06 in French) but last 7 February, it finally purchased a gouache watercolor entitled Pollard Willow (ill. 1) at Christie’s London for £1,273,250 (including charges).

1. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
Pollard Willow, 1882
Watercolor, Gouache, Pencil, Ink - 37.7 x 56.2 cm
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum
Photo : Van Gogh Museum

2. Letter 252 from Vincent Van Gogh to Théo on 31st July 1882

Executed on 27 July 1882 and quoted in a letter from Vincent to Theo written four days later (ill. 2), the work represents the outskirts of The Hague where the artist was staying at the time. He describes this somber landscape with a dead tree standing next to a stagnant pond carpeted in duckweed ; in the distance there a few buildings surrounded in smoke and the railroad tracks of a station ; green prairies unfold in the foreground alongside an ash colored road ; gray clouds race across the sky, some outlined in shiny white. Paradoxically, the dead tree seems alive, almost human, with a halo formed by the blue sky and its shape endows the scene with a certain dramatization. The museum holds a drawing which reveals this impression, the trees, here birches, seeming ghost-like, almost menacing. The polard willow inhabits the artist’s landscape throughout his career ; it is mentioned in other letters, notably the one he wrote to his friend Van Rappard, on 12 October 1881 and he would paint it later in Arles, in warmer tones, notably in Willows at Sunset (1888) but particularly in Path with a Tree (1888) which practically copies, in a mirror image, the composition of the watercolor.

3. Pierre Bonnard ( 1867 - 1947)
Montmartre in the Rain, 1897
Oil on Paper on Panel
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum
Photo : Van Gogh Museum

4. Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
The Mumps, 1892-1893
Oil on Canvas
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum
Photo : Van Gogh Museum

The museum also rounded out its collection of Nabis works over the past few years : Montmartre in the Rain (1897) by Bonnard was acquired in 2009 (ill. 3) while in 2011, the museum acquired its first ever Vuillard The Mumps (ill. 4). The paintings reveals the privacy of an interior where the artist’s sister is seen in profile, a thin black silhouette, a scarf around her face, in a geometric parallel to the vertical drop of the curtain. We glimpse her in others canvases such as the famous Interior, the Artist’s Mother and Sister, where the young woman blends into the wall and attempts to remain inside the frame.

5. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
The Haymaking, Éragny
Oil on Canvas - 51 x 66 cm
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum
Photo : Van Gogh Museum

6. Camille Pissaro (1830-1903)
Cowgirl in Morning Sun
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum
Photo : Van Gogh Museum

Finally, two pointillist works by Pissarro joined the collections in 2011 : a painting, The Haymaking, Éragny purchased through Sotheby’s (estimated at $3,000,000 to $5,000,000 at the 2 November 2010 auction) (ill. 5) and a gouache Cowgirl in Morning Sun (ill. 6) belong to this period between 1884 and 1888 when the painter, living in Eragny-sur-Epte, applied the Neo-Impressionist theories to these canvases which celebrate the work in the fields and peasant life. In 2006 the museum had acquired another Pissarro work : Road to Versailles, Rocquencourt.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, lundi 28 mai 2012

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