van Gogh Returns

Art History, In the News -

van Gogh Returns

After 14 years, two stolen van Gogh paintings will resume their place in the van Gogh Museum's permanent collection, located in Amsterdam. The two paintings, 'Seascape at Scheveningen' and 'Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen' have a huge historical and emotional value. They were recovered during a massive, continuing investigation commissioned by the Italian Public Prosecutions Department.

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Major art historical value

The art historical value of the paintings for the collection is huge. Seascape at Scheveningen is the only painting in our museum collection dating from Van Gogh's period in The Hague (1881-1883). It is one of the only two seascapes that he painted during his years in the Netherlands and it is a striking example of Van Gogh's early style of painting, already showing his highly individual character.

Great emotional value

Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen is a small canvas that Van Gogh painted for his mother in early 1884. It shows the church of the Reformed Church community in the Brabant village of Nuenen, Van Gogh's father being its Minister.

In 1885, after his father's death, Van Gogh reworked the painting and added the churchgoers in the foreground, among them a few women in shawls worn in times of mourning. This may be a reference to his father's death. The strong biographical undertones make this a work of great emotional value.

The museum collection does not include any other painting depicting the church. Moreover, it is the only painting in the Van Gogh Museum collection still in its original stretcher frame. This frame is covered in splashes of paint because Van Gogh probably cleaned his brushes on it.

Museo di Capodimonte

The paintings will be on display at the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples until 26 February, after which they will come back to the Van Gogh Museum. This represents the return to Amsterdam of important pieces of the Dutch cultural heritage.

Axel Rüger, director Van Gogh Museum:

‘We are currently in the midst of preparations for the festive return of the two paintings. This happy event should be celebrated in style with all of our Van Gogh fans, so we are extending a warm invitation to all Dutch citizens and art lovers worldwide to join us in commemorating the paintings’ homecoming!’’