"Van Gogh attached a small drawing of this painting to a letter to his brother Theo, to show him what he had made. Based on this, the painting has been dated October 1884. At the same time there are indications that the painting was reworked two years later, in 1886, with brighter colours. In that year, Van Gogh was in Paris and, under the influence of the impressionists, he started working with lighter colours. It is not easy to determine which strokes of paint were made in the Netherlands and which were added in France. The blue stripes which stand out against the sky and the light touches in the trees seem to have been added in France. These are brighter than the colours he used in his Dutch period. The way in which the ground is painted, built up of isolated strokes of paint, also seems to acknowledge an impressionistic influence. Van Gogh left the signature at bottom left, which already appeared on the painting, when he did the repainting. The Dutch paint can still be seen there. Source: Annet Tellegen, 'De populierenlaan bij Nuenen van Vincent van Gogh', Bulletin Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1967, pp. 8-15. X-ray photos have shown that Van Gogh had initially used this canvas for a completely different painting. The contours of a church tower and a landscape can be seen. Perhaps he was dissatisfied with this composition and therefore used the same canvas for a different painting. Or could he not afford a new canvas and sacrificed an old work in order to be able to create a new one?



  • Title: Poplars near Nuenen
  • Date Created: 1885
  • Physical Dimensions: w980 x h780 cm (Without frame)
  • Painter: Vincent van Gogh
  • Original Title: De populierenlaan bij Nuenen
  • Artist Information: Vincent van Gogh was the son of a pastor and a preacher himself for a while. After he was dismissed in 1880 from his position as preacher in the poor mine region of Borinage in Belgium, he chose the life of an artist. Until 1886 Van Gogh wandered round the Netherlands. His paintings from this period are dark in tone and examples of the difficult life of a peasant. In 1886, Van Gogh left for Paris where his brother Theo had a gallery. He got to know artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat and Gauguin, and these had considerable influence on his work. His colour palette became lighter and he experimented with an impressionistic style of painting. In 1888, Van Gogh settled in Arles; his friend Gauguin would later follow him there. Here, Van Gogh's mental health deteriorated, which led, among other things, to the famous incident when he cut off a piece of his ear. He left around 1250 paintings and 1000 water colours, sketches and drawings, and also an extensive correspondence with his brother Theo.
  • Additional Artwork Information: "Vincent van Gogh was moved by the plight of labourers who spent their lives performing arduous and soul-destroying work. In 1884, soon after moving to the village of Nuenen in Brabant, he began to depict some of the weavers who found employment in the local industry. The man in The Weaver seems almost like an adjunct to his loom. His hands move automatically as he stares vacantly before him. Van Gogh spent day after day with these people. He wanted to bring them to the attention of city-dwellers, who were oblivious to their very existence. Van Gogh was also fascinated by the peasants who worked the land. He sketched them digging, weeding, making hay, and harvesting potatoes. The museum has a drawing of a peasant woman bending over to plant beets. The figure is set out in firm, black chalk lines. The focus is mainly on the hands performing the laborious task. The sheet dates from 1885, the year in which Van Gogh painted his famous Potato Eaters. For Van Gogh, peasant life was the heart of modern art. He was a great admirer of the French Realist painter Jean-François Millet, who was renowned for his rustic scenes. But Van Gogh took a different approach. In March 1886, he left for Paris, where he discovered the work of the Impressionists. He studied their paintings, which inspired him to adopt a significantly lighter palette. This change in his work can be seen in the Poplars near Nuenen which he executed in 1885, towards the end of his stay in the village. After arriving in Paris, he painted over a few passages with looser brushstrokes and brighter colours, and called the painting a ‘symphony in yellow’. Museum Boymans acquired The Poplars in 1931. It was the first Van Gogh painting to enter a public collection. "
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Donated by twenty-six Rotterdam Friends of the Arts,1903, http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • External Link: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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