Amsterdam Part Three: Van Gogh and The Hermitage

All the info on Amsterdam says get there early to avoid the queues. We did just that, going in just after 9.30 am and it was worth it. It’s not a huge museum and his works are not that large, so you need to be able to get close to see the colour, and appreciate the dramatic directional brushstrokes.

Of course he is famous for his sunflowers and the later work where the paint is thickly applied The experimental work in yellows and proving that it could be done is stunning. Although the overall effect is yellow, there are lots of different colours in the shadows and highlights which result in such lively luminous works. You can see this in ‘Quince, Apples Pears’ where even the frame is ochre coloured.

The potato pickers is interesting and shows his skill in interpreting the world around him, the faces of the ladies indeed looking like snobbly potatoes, but it is the beautiful orchard paintings that I connected with most.

Impressionist in style, with great depth and colour and light, the fourteen orchard paintings were completed in four weeks and he insisted they were hung together. Three are on display in the museum.

Other favourites were a seascape that was quite traditional but had beautiful light and a harvest field with a partridge.

Not allowed to take photos I had to rely on the net for images, so apologies for repro. To see them better go to the website which has all the collection and a great zoom facility to get in really close. Van Gogh Museum

A quick tram ride and stroll across the bridge and we were at The Hermitage, another impressive building with a lovely courtyard which was a carpet of spring flowers. It is part of the famous Hermitage in St Petersburg and puts on two different exhibitions every year from their collection.

Displaying the works of the Gauguin, Dennis and Bonnard with a few others, it was another incredible building with a very different space, but where the artwork took centre stage in spacious surroundings with some lovely views down over the main galleries. Bonnard has long been my most favourite artists, but dissapointingly there were only three pieces of work on display and definately not his best. Most were commissioned pieces for rich russians to decorate their walls.

These three artists were at one time part of a group called the ‘Nabis’. Post impressionists, more interested in symbolism and the beginnings of abstraction. They flattened the landscape and colour had no shade. Almost dreamlike and ethereal they were meant to create an air of mystery. Simple clear brushmarks and intense colour with rich depth did make for very interesting work.

New artist discoveries are exciting and two were Odilon Redon and Charles Guilloux who was a master of moonlight.

odilon redon

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