Collection Highlights, Recent Acquisitions

The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters

This current van Gogh exhibition (January 23, 2010 – April 18, 2010) at the Royal Academy in London is the debut venue for his correspondence. Never before seen in Britain, the letters accompany twelve core paintings from the Van Gogh Museum as well as many others, including our own “Poplars at Saint-Rémy.” 1958.32_w

The purpose of exhibiting letters that describe the works on view is meant to compliment a new edition of van Gogh’s remarkable correspondence: Vincent van Gogh – The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition. Hopefully this title is soon to be added to the Ingalls Library collection.

About our painting, van Gogh writes: “We’re having some superb autumn days, and […] I’m taking advantage of them. I have a study of two yellowed poplars on a background of mountains” (October 8, 1889). Teio Meedendorp writes that van Gogh found this view at the foot of Les Alpilles, close to the asylum, and that the quarried stones pictured here can still be seen.

There are some wonderful paintings and drawings in the show, most especially the pen and brown ink (over pencil) landscapes. One, pictured near Montmajour, has the most adorable little train huffing and puffing its freight through fields, and seen from a bird’s-eye-view. The exhibition catalog has a detail of this train, and a close inspection reveals too, all the little figures walking and working. Amazing!

If you are going to London don’t miss the exhibition -- it might be your only chance to see real Vincent van Gogh letters, ever.