Published: May 15, 2012
The Van Gogh Museum has unveiled a newly purchased work by Vincent van Gogh (1853‱890), “Pollard Willow.” This watercolor is the first major addition to the museum in five years. Director Axel Rüger said, ‘This specific work was on the museum’s wish list as a major potential purchase, because it is one of the most representative watercolors from Van Gogh’s period in The Hague.”
“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, full-fledged watercolors. Of all of them, this was the one with which he was most satisfied as he described at length in letters to his brother Theo.
Absorbed in the atmosphere of the scene that he wished to evoke, he wrote: “A sombre landscape †that dead tree beside a stagnant pond covered in duckweed, in the distance a Rijnspoor depot [The Hague] 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.” Van Gogh said, “I’ve attacked that old giant of a pollard willow, and I believe it has turned out the best of the watercolours. Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, July 31, 1882.”
Van Gogh wrote enthusiastically to Theo a few days after completing the painting, and included a sketch. The letter, on faded brown paper, hangs next to the completed painting in the museum.
A special presentation revolving around this purchase will be on view at the Van Gogh Museum until July 10. Then “Pollard Willow” and dozens of other paintings will move to the Hermitage Amsterdam while the Van Gogh Museum closes for renovations.
The Van Gogh Museum is on Museumplein between the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum. The museum entrance is at Paulus Potterstraat 7. For more information, +31 (0)20 570 5200 or www.vangoghmuseum.nl .
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