Visit to Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Jane amsterdam 214I have just returned from 3 days in Amsterdam where I enjoyed a visit to the Van Gogh Museum. Banks of cut sunflowers (and long queues!) led the way to the entrance (left)

Jane amsterdam 219I am honoured that one of my Sunflowers pictures has been used in a new rolling video in the museum entrance hall, of ‘homage’ works to Van Gogh. (hence 2 complimentary tickets to the museum!)You can see it above my head in the picture (left)

 

Jane amsterdam 220

 

Posing by a giant reproduction of the Amsterdam version of the famous sunflowers (left)

Van Gogh painted 4 different compositions of Sunflowers and then made ‘repetitions’ with slight variations and with different coloured backgrounds. This version with a deep yellow ground (1889) is a repetition of one with a pale yellow background (1888), which is in the National Gallery, London.

On this visit, I also discovered from the museum leaflet that ‘Van Gogh himself sometimes copied the work of other artists in a highly individual way.’ He wrote in a letter to his brother Theo: “it isn’t a hard and fast rule that only the composer plays his  own compositions” (letter 805, 20 Sept 1889)

Also on display were works by contemporary artists, inspired by Van Gogh’s letters, and a few works by Van Gogh’s contemporaries. I was so moved by a bronze sculpture by Rodin entitled ‘She who was the helmet maker’s once-beautiful wife’ (1887) I had never seen it or even heard of it before. Rodin, like Van Gogh, sought to show life as it is with its rawness and suffering, rather than an idealised version of life. This painfully honest portrayal of a woman in old age with shrivelled breasts and sagging abdominal folds of skin had a physical impact on me, like a kick in the stomach or an electric shock.

 

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