The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has acquired its first Van Gogh in five years. The work is a water colour called Pollard Willow, which the artist painted in The Hague in July 1882.
The work shows a road with a ditch alongside it and a pollard willow growing on the verge. The rolling stock depot of the former Rijnspoor station in The Hague can be seen in the background. Van Gogh discovered this spot on one of his many walks in the vicinity of his house on the Schenkstraat.
The Van Gogh Museum says Pollard Willow is ‘a crucial addition’ to its collection. “The work was on our wish list as an important possible acquisition, because it’s one of the most representative water colours from Van Gogh’s’ Hague period,” says Director Axel Rüger. Until today, we had no example of that period in our collection.”
Pollard Willow is part of a series of six water colours Van Gogh painted in the summer of 1882. Curator Marije Vellekoop says these works represent a turning point in the artist’s oeuvre. “Up to that period, most of his work consisted of figure studies and works in black and white. He then suddenly changed over to landscapes and cityscapes and works in colour.”
Letters by Van Gogh in the museum’s collection show that the artist thought Pollard Willow was the best work from the series. He describes in his letter the atmosphere he wanted to evoke in the water colour. “A sombre landscape - that dead tree near the stagnant, duckweed-covered water.'' Ms Vellekoop says the watercolour, measuring 38 centimetres by 56 centimetres exudes a self-confidence hitherto lacking in Van Gogh’s work.
The museum bought the watercolour a few months ago at a London auction for more than 1.5 million euros. The acquisition was made possible by the support of a number of funds, including the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association and the Vincent van Gogh Foundation.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide