Thursday, March 22, 2012


Fishing Boats On The Beach at Les Saintes Maries De

Fishing Boats On The Beach at Les Saintes Maries De
Author Minke Wagenaar from Amsterdam
NL Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
NL from


Van Gogh took a 30 mile stagecoach trip from Arles to the sea-side fishing village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. Van Gogh's week-long trip was taken to recover from his health problems and make some seaside paintings and drawings. At that time Saintes-Maries was a small fishing village with under a hundred homes. In just a few days he made two paintings of the sea, one of the village and nine drawings. One of the paintings was Van Gogh Museum's Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer , which he described to his brother, Theo: "I made the drawing of the boats when I left very early in the morning, and I am now working on a painting based on it, a size 30 canvas with more sea and sky on the right. It was before the boats hastened out; I had watched them every morning, but as they leave very early I didn't have time to paint them." Some of the work on the painting was finished in the studio, such as capturing the light in the sand, sea and sky. (WIKIPEDIA)

Sketch from

Van Gogh was making huge strides in his paintings as he learnt the pointillist technique of contrasting hues of complementary colors and creating rhythmic patterns modeled with color. These stylistic changes quickly made their way into his work on paper. In the very first drawings executed in Arles in the spring of 1888, his use of a pen cut from a reed stalk lends a new flexibility to his drawing style by giving him the ability to make an incredible variety of shapes and forms composed of lines and dots. Suddenly, there is greater precision and refinement in his drawings and the earlier work looks a little flat, uninflected, and lacking in textures. What is happening in these sublime late works is that Van Gogh has learnt how to convey not simply shapes and forms but texture and consistency through marks of the pen. In Fishing Boats on the Beach at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the stipple technique creates the stony beach, while relaxed swirls made with a loose wrist are used to represent waves, and the solidity of the wooden boats is suggested through parallel hatching marks. The drawings on the walls of this show might give the impression that Van Gogh invariably sought to attain a high degree of finish, and that is misleading. The organizers therefore display Van Gogh's four surviving sketchbooks in a glass case, and these reveal that he also sketched quickly and roughly, capturing passing scenes as fast as his hand could move over the paper.
(Van Gogh Draughtsman: The Masterpieces by Richard Dorment at
Vincent van Gogh completed Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in 1888, after spending time sketching on the shore of the Mediterranean fishing village. There is a high level of control in van Gogh's composition, with its nearly even division of land and sky and the boats positioned to break through the division and unite the separate zones. Even the color is controlled, and individual objects are bound within black contour lines.
(Debra N. Mancoff, PhD at
Completed in oil, this stunning seascape near this little fishing village incorporates the beauty of the fishing boats, with red, blue and white painted detailing, along with the slightly moody sky and calm seas. This wonderful Post-Impressionist art print would be ideal for anyone with a passion for sea fishing, or a love of Van Gogh's work.
Not long after this work was completed Vincent's dementia finally became too much for him to take. Glimpses of the artist's distress can be seen (only in retrospect, of course!) in the frantic circular brushstrokes of the sky, perhaps a premonition of what was to come. This is a beautiful painting, skillfully executed that is, undeservedly, not so widely known as some of Van Gogh's other works.

1 comment:

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