Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) Peasant burning weeds, New Amsterdam, October 1883
© Drents Museum, Assen/Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (purchased with support from the BankGiro Loterij, Mondriaan Fund, Rembrandt Association (thanks in part to its Impressionism / Claude Monet Fund Theme Fund, the Hendrickje Fund and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds), Vincent van Gogh Foundation, Province Drenthe, Beringer Hazewinkel Foundation, Drents Museum Support Fund and Friends of the Drents Museum Foundation)
Category:News Resources

Discover Van Gogh’s Drenthe period

June 9, 2022

Destitute and heartbroken, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) boarded the last train from The Hague to Drenthe on Tuesday 11th September 1883. He stayed in Hoogeveen for a few weeks and then moved to Nieuw-Amsterdam/Veenoord. He also made a day trip to Zweeloo. He only knew Drenthe from other people's stories. What he would find there was something he could only fantasize about. Although he was not the first artist to set foot in this ‘desolate' and remote province, his choice to travel to Drenthe in the autumn instead of the summer was special. Even more remarkable was that he did not go to the idyllic sand villages, but had lost his heart to the peatlands of Southeast Drenthe.

Painter of the peasants

What Van Gogh saw in Drenthe would remain with him throughout his life. The hard life in the peat bogs and the purity of the inhabitants made him even more steadfast in his goal: Van Gogh wanted to become a painter of peasants. He wanted to fathom life in the country in all its facets and understand the characteristics of its inhabitants to the core. In doing so he was in no way held back by the prevailing customs and fashions of the art world. Van Gogh followed his own path and the months he spent in isolation in Drenthe convinced him even more of his vocation. The drawings and paintings from the Drenthe period, if only a handful, show Van Gogh's toil with light effects and shapes, as well as his search for his own style.

First exhibition ever

Never before has the Drenthe period been the subject of a major exhibition. Van Gogh in Drenthe takes you along on Van Gogh's Drenthe adventure. Through his letters, the painter takes us on a quest for happiness as a person and success as an artist. We follow him in his wanderings through the Drenthe of 1883 and what life was like then. Light is shed on his sources of inspiration and the Drenthe work of contemporaries. The significance of the Drenthe period in his oeuvre is also highlighted. Until now, the Drenthe chapter in Van Gogh's life has often been overlooked or only mentioned in passing. This project will change that and forever add the Drenthe period to the artist's life story. The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated publication presenting new research.

Heritage Sites

The Drents Museum, the Drents Archive and Het Drentse Landschap, investigated the heritage sites of Van Gogh in Drenthe. Please visit the website for more information.

The exhibition Van Gogh in Drenthe will be on display at the Drents Museum from 11 September 2023 until 7 January 2024.

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