The Van Gogh Museum just keeps getting better

Many who do not often visit Museums, and others who do not claim to be connoisseurs of art, still feel a sense of excitement every time they visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It is as if the spirit of the famous Dutch painter lives within the walls of the building that house his paintings. And now it seems the experience will get even better.  For the first time in five years, the Van Gogh Museum has purchased a work by Vincent van Gogh, the watercolour Pollard willow, described as a major addition to the museum’s collection.

The Museum Director, Axel Rüger comments:

 ‘This specific work was on the museum’s wish list as a major potential purchase, because it is one of the most representative watercolours from Van Gogh’s period in The Hague, and until now, there was a gap in our collection here. That this work is now part of our collection is fantastic, not just for the Van Gogh Museum but also for the Dutch public art collections in general’.

Pollard willow  was purchased with substantial contributions from the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association and her Prints and Drawings Fund, the VSB Foundation, and the Mondriaan Fund.

Pollard willow was executed in The Hague in July 1882, a period in which Van Gogh produced –for the first time− a number of large, fully fledged watercolours. Of all of them, this was the one with which he was most satisfied as he described in one of his letters. The work displays a path alongside a stretch of water, with a pollard willow standing beside it. Clearly visible in the background are the buildings of the depot at Rijnspoor railway station. Van Gogh stumbled on this spot on one of his many journeys in the surroundings of his house on Schenkstraat, in The Hague. He describes the motif at length in two letters, absorbed in the atmosphere of the scene that he wished to evoke.

In a letter to his brother Theo, the painter wrote:

 ‘A sombre landscape — that dead tree beside a stagnant pond covered in duckweed, in the distance a Rijnspoor depot where railway lines cross, smoke-blackened buildings — also green meadows, a cinder road and a sky in which the clouds are racing, grey with an occasional gleaming white edge, and a depth of blue where the clouds tear apart for a moment.’

Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, 31 July 1882.

Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found. His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was visited in 2011 by 1,600,300 visitors. A visit to the Van Gogh Museum is a unique experience. The museum houses the largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh in the world. It provides the opportunity to keep track of the artist’s developments, or compare his paintings to works by other artists from the 19th century in the collection. The museum also holds an extensive offer of exhibitions on various subjects from 19th century art history.

A special presentation revolving around its new acquisition will be on view at the Van Gogh Museum until 10 July 2012. In addition to work by Van Gogh, the museum has a rich and varied collection of other 19th century art. The artists represented include Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and others: Van Gogh’s friends and contemporaries, those who inspired him, and those who drew inspiration from him.

source: with the Van Gogh Museum.

photo: an image of Vincent Van Gogh Pollard Willow (picture courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam).