Sjraar van Heugten, Ella Hendriks
René Boitelle, Roelie Zwikker
From the museum website
Van Gogh’s studio practice
Recent research has provided significant data for the museum catalogue series, and the Letters Project has uncovered much new information regarding Van Gogh’s method of working. Also in recent years, an in-depth study of Van Gogh’s painting and drawing materials has been initiated in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (Amsterdam) and Shell Nederland.
Moreover a Van Gogh project forms part of the bigger De Mayerne Program funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific research (NWO). Key topics studied within this program include the composition and deterioration of paints used in Van Gogh’s French works, as well as French documentary sources on the manufacture, composition, and supply of painting materials used by Van Gogh and his contemporaries. Together these projects have provided significant new insights into Van Gogh’s studio practice.
The project Van Gogh’s studio practice in context examines the accumulated information within a broader setting. It takes a closer look at Van Gogh’s working methods, the varied sources of his knowledge and ideas, and links between his studio practice and that of contemporaries and colleagues. The research focuses on artists whom Van Gogh actually met (including Mauve, Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac and Gauguin) and artists whose oeuvre and working methods he admired and knew well (Monticelli, Delacroix and Millet).
The art-historical research follows the chronology of Van Gogh’s career and concentrates on cataloguing and studying textbooks and other sources from which Van Gogh and his contemporaries – in and out of the academies – gathered their information. The technical research will examine a wide range of works that Van Gogh himself would have known and perhaps studied.
The project may result in a new vision of nineteenth-century studio practice, and moreover enable an art-historical reconstruction of the working methods of the artists concerned. A publication will explain findings in a detailed yet accessible manner that is suited to a broad public. The results are explained in all its complexity, yet will be nevertheless accessible in a publication written by specialists. An exhibition is planned in order to present the results to a wider audience. The project is planned to continue until October 2009.
The presentation in the showcase focuses on Van Gogh’s apprenticeship under Anton Mauve, an established painter of the Hague School and a cousin of Van Gogh by marriage. During the three weeks that Van Gogh spent at Mauve’s studio in December 1881 he made his first paintings – until then he had concentrated on drawing.
Mauve’s influence on the young Van Gogh is evident in his painting technique and his choice of subjects. By examining Van Gogh’s first painting, art materials, an x-ray photograph, paint samples and extracts from letters, the way this influence grew becomes clear. A work from Van Gogh’s Nuenen period (1883-1885) shows how his style of painting and technique developed. Also included in the exhibition is a painting by Mauve.