Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

In the Dunes (In de Duinen)

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
In the Dunes (In de Duinen)
oil on paper laid down on panel
13 ¼ x 19 1/8 in. (33.5 x 48.5 cm.)
Painted in The Hague, September 1883
Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam (1904).
H. Sythoff, Wassenaar, Netherlands (by 1937).
Mrs. A.M. Sythoff-Burgerhour, Wassenaar, Netherlands (by descent from the above, 1960).
Anon. sale, Van Marle en Bingell, The Hague, 21 May 1963, lot 32.
Private collection, Netherlands.
The Weldon Collection, London.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 4 December 1968, lot 18.
Mrs. Philip D. Armour, Palm Beach and Lake Forest.
Brook Street Galleries, London.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 1969).
Trosby Gallery, Inc., Palm Beach (acquired from the above, 1969).
Private collection, Denver.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 1975).
Trosby Galleries, West Palm Beach (acquired from the above, 1977).
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Vanden Brul, Rochester.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, December 1989.
W. Vanbeselaere, De Hollandsche Periode (1880-1885) in het werk van Vincent van Gogh, Antwerp, 1937, pp. 112, 238 and 413, no. 15bis (titled Heide).
J.-B. de la Faille, The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings, Amsterdam, 1970, p. 185, no. F 15a (illustrated, p. 186).
J. Hulsker, The Complete van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, New York, 1980, p. 92, no. 393 (illustrated, p. 93; titled Landscape with Dunes).
M. Arnold, Vincent van Gogh: Werk und Wirkung, Munich, 1995, p. 836, no. 424.
J. Hulsker, The New Complete van Gogh, Paintings, Drawings, Sketches: Revised and Enlarged Edition of the Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of Vincent van Gogh, Philadelphia, 1996, p. 92, no. 393 (illustrated, p. 93; titled Landscape with Dunes).
Rotterdam, Kunstzalen Oldenzeel, Vincent van Gogh, November-December 1904, no. 5.
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, Vincent van Gogh, February-May 1960, p. 29, no. 4 (illustrated in color, p. 58).
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester (on extended loan).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Painted less than six years before Van Gogh developed that powerfully expressive Post-Impressionist style we recognize as quintessentially his own, In the Dunes may display little outward sign of this signature aspect. It nonetheless reveals most presciently nearly everything we have come to know about this man’s famously turbulent and impassioned nature. “My body will endure for a certain number of years come what may...say between 6 and 10,” Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother Theo around 7 August 1883, only several weeks before he painted this landscape. “My plan is not to spare myself... It’s a matter of relative indifference to me whether I live a long or a short time... I see myself as having to do something with heart and love in it within a few years, and to do it with willpower” (Letters, 2009, no. 371).
Van Gogh painted In the Dunes while living in The Hague, during a stay which lasted from Christmas Day 1881 through 10 September 1883. He rented a small apartment, in which he set aside space for his studio, on the “third street of the Schenkweg” on the eastern outskirts of the city. From March 1882 until the end of his stay, Van Gogh shared his room, bread and love with a prostitute, the unwed mother of a young daughter, and–fathered by a man who had deserted her–a boy born in July 1882. This unusual and often difficult relationship complicated Van Gogh’s life, strained his limited financial resources, and in unknowable ways, affected his art.
The site Van Gogh depicted in this landscape is likely near Loosduinen, a village further west from the center of The Hague, then accessible by steam tram. This locale, as its name in Dutch describes, was then an empty, barren place. Standing amid the windswept dunes, shrubs and sparse trees, the artist was probably gazing toward the North Sea, which lay around the bend in his path, as clouds heavily laden with moisture rolled inland. Van Gogh took solace in such moody, elemental displays of nature, envisioning them as backdrops for his figure compositions.
The Hague period is noted for Van Gogh’s achievements in his drawing, the materials for which he could more easily afford than paints and canvas. The letters nonetheless provide evidence that the artist executed upwards of seventy oil studies in and around The Hague, of which only twenty-four have been catalogued thus far, including some known only through old photographs. Van Gogh painted a group of thirteen oils during August 1882, and another nine beginning in July the following summer–including the present landscape–plus two others whose medium is uncertain. The artist took his Hague paintings during his move to Nuenen in December 1883, only to abandon them during his relocation to Antwerp two years later. Following Van Gogh’s death, the artist’s mother and family lost track of many of these paintings.
In a letter to Theo on or about 5 September 1883, Van Gogh wrote, “I came home from the dunes behind Loosduinen, soaking wet because I spent three hours in the rain at a spot where everything was Ruisdael, Daubigny or Jules Dupré [landscape painters he admired]. I came back with a study of crooked windswept trees [possibly In the Dunes?], a second of a farm after the rain” (Letters, 2009, no. 381). “We know enough painted works to give us some idea of the level he now reached in this medium he had taken up again,” Hulsker has written. On 11 September Van Gogh departed The Hague, “the city where over the past twenty months he had become a highly proficient artist, and where, along with heavy cares, he had known moments of domestic bliss that were not to fall to his lot again.” He moved to Drenthe, “facing a future in which everything was uncertain” (op. cit., 1977, pp. 90 and 92).

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