Van Gogh in London

van gogh prisoners exercising

Van Gogh’s “Prisoners Exercising” from 1890 is based on an engraving of inmates in Newgate Prison in London by Gustave Doré. Van Gogh painted the work while being treated for mental illness in Saint-Rémy, France. Credit The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

A new exhibition at Tate Britain, “Van Gogh and Britain,” opens March 27, 2019. This article causes me to think somewhat differently about van Gogh. Of several good illustrations it contains, I chose the painting reproduced here because I’ve never seen it, and it’s unlike much of his work that I have seen.

“Looking at his work through his relationship with Britain brings into the foreground his amazing intellectual curiosity,” said Carol Jacobi, the lead curator of the show.

“He read very widely: literature as well as popular science. If you carefully study his work, the image arises of a man who carefully thinks about his works and prepares.” [Sjraar van Heugten, van Gogh art historian]

“Things are going well for me here,” [van Gogh] wrote to Theo from London in January 1874. “I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?”

(Nina Siegal, “Van Gogh the Wild Man? Try Van Gogh the Suburban Professional,” NYTimes, 3- 26-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
This entry was posted in Anthology, Quotations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Van Gogh in London

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    That painting is amazing, and complex. The bricks alone are spectacular. What overall impresses me though, is that he’s created a 3-dimensional space with thick impasto paint, which means he’s doing it all with color, rather than with shading.

    • JMN says:

      I agree! Well put. The painting stunned me when I saw it reproduced in the article. I’d love to see it in real life. Your point about the bricks is perfect. The figures are moving, but the space he creates around them is amazing. It’s about the bricks. Thanks for your insight about color and not shading. I admire Van Gogh immensely, but this painting was a refreshing change from the over exposure of some of his work.

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