This summer (2 July to 18 September 2005) the Van Gogh Museum presents some of the finest drawings by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). This representative survey of over one hundred of Van Gogh's many drawings reveals the full extent of his remarkable talent as a draughtsman. The works have been brought together from public and private collections throughout the world with major loans from the J. Paul Getty Museum, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Kunsthaus Zürich and the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. The drawings are seldom displayed due to their sensitivity to light - some of them have not been shown in public for many years.
Van Gogh began his artistic career in 1880 as a draughtsman and concentrated on drawing for the next three years. Even when he began to develop as a painter from 1884, drawing remained a passion. His draughtsmanship took on stunning new proportions with a series of seven magnificent landscape drawings in March and April 1884, five of which appear in the exhibition.
Having adopted a modern manner of working in Paris in 1886-88, he settled in Arles in February 1888. There he made some extraordinary drawings using reed pen, especially of the Southern French landscape. These include a series of highly successful landscape drawings in reed pen that culminated in the so-called second Montmajour series: six large views of the shimmering Provençal countryside. The entire series is featured in the exhibition so this is a unique chance to view one of the artist's finest achievements.
Van Gogh's love of country life is reflected in another highlight of the exhibition. Four versions of The harvest, a watercolour, a painting and two copies in the form of pen drawings, illustrate the artistic process that characterises his work in Arles: an interplay between painting and drawing in which the artist explored the rhythm and cohesion of the composition in different media.
At Saint-Rémy (May 1889-May 1890) and later at Auvers-sur-Oise he experimented with rhythm and colour.
To present a complete survey of Van Gogh as a draughtsman, and not just the masterpieces, the show will at various points feature other aspects of his work. Van Gogh's study books and drawing materials will be exhibited, as well as sketches and illustrations from his letters, showing how the artistic process developed. For the first time, Van Gogh's four surviving sketchbooks will be exhibited together in Amsterdam.