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20 June 2024

Drents Museum purchases last’ Drenthe Van Gogh

Landscape with a farm from 1883 back in Drenthe.

The Drents Museum in Assen has acquired a key work in the early oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). The watercolour Landscape with a farm was the only Drenthe work in a private collection whose whereabouts were known that could still come on the market. The watercolour remained in a Canadian family collection for 40 years and has rarely been shown. Landscape with a farm has a phenomenal colour palette. Van Gogh painted the work in 1883 during his stay in Drenthe. It shows that his time on Drenthe soil was fertile. The work is a first step towards the expressive French masterpieces that make him one of the most beloved artists ever. The Drents Museum's acquisition is a valuable addition to the Netherlands Collection.

Somewhere in Drenthe, Vincent van Gogh found a small farmhouse or hut in the middle of an open field. He painted the wet, abandoned landscape in vibrant rust colours and lilac tones. The bold colour palette is a precursor to the colourful work that would later make him world famous. The watercolour Landscape with a farm was the big surprise of the exhibition Travelling with Vincent - Van Gogh in Drenthe, which the Drents Museum opened in 2023. Harry Tupan, general director of the Drents Museum: 'We are extremely happy to have been able to buy the work, ten years after our research into the legacy and significance of Drenthe for Van Gogh began. It is a story of development in which the Drenthe landscape is the most important catalyst.'

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Landscape with a farm, Drenthe, 1883, watercolour on paper, Drents Museum collection

In search of his own style

In Drenthe, Vincent van Gogh painted figures, farmhouses and peat mounds in stark contrast to the barren landscape, against the setting sun. He visited Hoogeveen, Nieuw-Amsterdam/Veenoord and Zweeloo. Toiling with form, paint and light, he searched for his own style. Van Gogh did not often work with watercolour paint, but to depict the colour and atmosphere of the wet autumn landscape, it was the perfect technique. With the acquisition of this special work, the Drents Museum now has three Van Goghs in its collection. Peasant burning weeds was purchased together with the Van Gogh Museum in 2019. The masterpieces are each in their own way exemplary of Van Gogh's Drenthe period and the development he underwent as an artist.

Period full of inspiration and colour

The three months that Van Gogh spent in Drenthe were more important for his development than previously thought. 'The watercolour breaks with the idea that the Drenthe period was dark and of little significance. It shows that this was a period full of inspiration, colour and promise,’ concludes Annemiek Rens, chief curator of the Drents Museum.

Drenthe van Gogh comes home

With support from the province of Drenthe, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Mondriaan Fund, the C&W de Boer Foundation, the VriendenLoterij, the Drents Museum Acquisition Fund and the Friends of the Drents Museum Foundation, Van Gogh's Landscape with a farm from 1883 is back home, back in Drenthe.