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‘New’ Van Gogh presented at the Drents Museum

Directors Harry Tupan and Adriaan Dönszelmann unveil joint acquisition Peasant Burning Weeds

Peasant Burning Weeds (1883) by Vincent van Gogh was presented yesterday (Monday 16 December) at the Drents Museum in Assen. This new acquisition, which was bought in conjunction with the Van Gogh Museum, has been added to the Barbizon of the North – The Discovery of the Drenthe Landscape 1850-1950 exhibition. Today Tuesday 17 December, the painting will be presented to the public. Entry to the museum on this day is free, and the opening hours have been extended to 9 a.m.–7 p.m.

Harry Tupan, general director of the Drents Museum, and Adriaan Dönszelmann, acting general director of the Van Gogh Museum, together unveiled the small masterpiece by Van Gogh, which will be shown by turns in the two museums over the coming years. Harry Tupan: ‘The Drents Museum is incredibly proud that “the weed burner” has come home to Drenthe after 136 years. It is great that the collaboration of our two museums has preserved this work for the Netherlands and added it to our collections’. Adriaan Dönszelmann: ‘This small but powerful work from the first phase of Van Gogh’s career is a strong addition to this period in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum. We are enormously pleased that the collaboration with the Drents Museum has brought this work back to the Netherlands and that it can be admired in both museums’.

Press Photograph 
Click on the images below to enlarge them.

The peregrinations of the ‘weed burner’
The ‘weed burner’ wandered all over the world before it was purchased on 13 November by the Drents Museum and the Van Gogh Museum at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. During that period, the work changed hands nearly twenty times. Among the owners were the poet Herman Gorter, the art dealer Jacques Goudstikker and the Nazis, who stole the work from Goudstikker. Early in 2019, the painting was returned to the Goudstikker heirs, who subsequently put it up for auction. The last time that the work was presented to the public was in 1987, in Puerto Rico.

Van Gogh in Drenthe plans
The acquisition of the ‘new’ Van Gogh is an important incentive for the Drents Museum’s plans around Van Gogh in Drenthe. In conjunction with the Drenthe Archive and Het Drentse Landschap, the Drents Museum is currently investigating the locations where Van Gogh spent time in Drenthe. The results will be presented in September 2020. The purchase is also a great prelude to the major Van Gogh in Drenthe exhibition that the Drents Museum is planning for September 2023, 140 years after Van Gogh’s arrival in Drenthe.

Barbizon of the North
In the Barbizon of the North exhibition, this early work by Van Gogh is shown alongside The Peat Barge, the other Van Gogh in the Drents Museum collection. Van Gogh lived in Drenthe in the autumn of 1883, documenting the Drenthe landscape and rural life in these two paintings and other works. In addition to the two Van Goghs, the exhibition shows works by other major 19th and 20th-century artists who discovered the nature of Drenthe, such as Israëls, Mauve, Mesdag and Liebermann. The Barbizon of the North exhibition – including Peasant Burning Weeds – will be open until 22 March 2020.

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- Adriaan Dönszelmann, acting general director of the Van Gogh Museum (left), and Harry Tupan, general director of the Drents Museum, unveil joint acquisition Peasant Burning Weeds, photo: Sake Elzinga

- Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Peasant Burning Weeds, 1883, oil on panel, 30.5 × 39.7 cm, Drents Museum, Assen / Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam