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Vincent and the fields...

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam houses not only works by Vincent Van Gogh, but also a superb collection of canvases by contemporary artists of the painter. On the theme of country life, let's visit them through some of the paintings delivered to our eyes...

Léon Augustin Lhermitte. Les moissons. 1887. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam
Léon Augustin Lhermitte. Les moissons. 1887. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam

Realist artist, whose style nevertheless suffered from the impressionist influence, admired by Edgar Degas (which was not an easy task), Léon Augustin Lhermitte delivers here a work of great strength. On the field quivering in the wind, the father straightens the blade of the scythe before sharpening it. The son and the daughter-in-law take a little rest while their daughter, pitchfork and rake in hand, seems to invite them to return to work. Vincent Van Gogh was very often inspired by country scenes. The most famous are his interpretations of the reapers by Jean-François Millet. By copying it freely, Van Gogh reinvented the poetry of rural life and gave color a new power.

Jules Bastien-Lepage. Les vendanges. 1880. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam
Jules Bastien-Lepage. Les vendanges. 1880. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam

7 years earlier, Jules Bastien-Lepage painted this young woman in the middle of the vines, firmly holding her two baskets. Only careful study of the painting allows us to understand why the latter turns its head, at the call of the winegrower, melted into the landscape at the top left. The comparison with the painting by Leon-Augustin Lhermitte is striking. Same low-angle view, same dominance of ochres and greens.

Vincent Van Gogh. Le cottage. 1885. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam
Vincent Van Gogh. Le cottage. 1885. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam

In 1885, Vincent Van Gogh will paint a multitude of peasant faces which he describes as "rough, flat, low foreheads and thick lips, not angular but full features, à la Millet". It is also the year of his first large format painting "the potato eaters".

This twilight "cottage", painted the same year, translates Vincent's taste for the simplicity of peasant cottages, these "men's nests", as he liked to call them...

Vincent Van Gogh. Le semeur. 1888. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam
Vincent Van Gogh. Le semeur. 1888. Musée Van Gogh Amsterdam

In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: "Here is the sketch of my last canvas in process, another sower, an immense lemon disk like the sun. Yellow-green sky with pink clouds, the ground purple, the sower and the tree prussian blue." The critic Albert Aurier saw in this painting "a Messiah, sower of truth". This small composition is clearly inspired by Japanese prints.


Museumplein 6

1071 DJ Amsterdam


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