Bleaching Ground at Scheveningen


The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

"I also did a bleaching ground at Scheveningen right on the spot, washed in at one sitting, almost without preparation, on a piece of very coarse Torchon [paper]," Vincent van Gogh wrote on 26 July 1882. Displaying his early accomplishment after only six months of working in and around The Hague, the recto and verso of this drawing together offer a fascinating glimpse into van Gogh's working process. He probably began by drawing the Scheveningen woman on the verso. Possibly dissatisfied with its murky effect, he may also have cut down the sheet to its current dimensions. Recycling the high-quality Torchon paper, he turned the sheet over and painted this luminous scene in watercolors as he watched the women at work in the field. With the whites blowing from the fence, van Gogh retained the freshness of the moment and created a sense of motion within an otherwise still landscape. Divergent and well-observed details combine into a single overall scheme, conveying a sense of open outdoor space. Masterfully handling a difficult medium, van Gogh revealed the luminosity of watercolor and hinted at the expressiveness and colorful palette of his art to come.


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