Van Gogh Exhibition at Tate Britain

Van Gogh Self Portrait

Superb exhibition of Van Gogh works as well as some of his influences currently at Tate Britain. We went there on Saturday. It was very crowded, and part of me wished that we had got up earlier and gone to the member’s preview at 8am. It was bound to be popular with so many famous paintings brought in from all over the world. The first Van Gogh exhibition since 1947!

He spent three years in London before he started painting. Firstly in the London office of Goupil, the art dealer, and some of the paintings he would have handled were on show. At Goupil he dealt in black and white prints, and himself became a collector, accumulating some 2000 prints. Whilst in England, he developed a fondness for literature, and especially for the works of Dickens. It is believed that he developed his social conscience through reading Dickens, and many of his works depict the misery of poverty.

He was a teacher and later a preacher in Isleworth before returning to the Netherlands and then moving to France to join his brother Theo, also a dealer.

In France he was painting, and from Paris moved to Arles, hopefully to found a colony of artists. Much of his work from this period is too well known to mention, and then sadly he was overtaken by mental illness, the need to self-harm and eventually to commit suicide

Also shown were some of the works of artists, who had been inspired by Van Gogh. Harold Gilman, Spencer Gore, and Matthew Smith led by Walter Sickert of the Camden Group were particular devotees, and it was said that Gilman would raise his brush to a picture of Van Gogh before he started to paint.

Famous paintings here, too many to mention. Sunflowers which was bought for the Tate in 1928 and then moved to the National, is now back. Also Shoes which was possibly the first painting of shoes to be used as a portrait of their owner. Others followed, and here I always think of our local painter and gardener, Gertrude Jekyll

I’ll finish with a bad photograph of Shoes

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It’s on until 11 August

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