Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890
N04715 Thatched Roofs 1884
Pen and ink and pencil heightened with gouache on paper, slightly irregular, 12 1/4 x 17 4/5 (31.2 x 45.3)
Bequeathed by C. Frank Stoop 1933
Prov: Mrs J. van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam; C. Frank Stoop, London
Exh: Vincent van Gogh en zijn Tijdgenooten, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, September-November 1930 (112); Vincent van Gogh: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, April-June 1970 (34, repr.)
Lit: J.-B. de la Faille, L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh (Paris-Brussels 1928), No.1242, Vol.3, p.93, repr. Vol.4, pl.104 as 'Les Chaumières'; Letters to an Artist: from Vincent van Gogh to Anton Ridder van Rappard 1881-1885 (London 1936), pp.163, 168 and facsimile facing p.162; Walther Vanbeselaere, De Hollandsche Periode (1880-1885) in het Werk van Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) (Antwerp 1937), No.1242, pp.259, 322, 412; The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh (London 1958), R42 and R45, Vol.3, pp.396-7, 404; J.-B. de la Faille, The Works of Vincent van Gogh (Amsterdam 1970), No.F1242, p.442, repr. p.443 as 'Huts with Thatched Roofs'
Repr: Lettres de Vincent van Gogh à Emile Bernard (Paris 1911), pl.17 as 'Chaumières Hollandaises'
Cottages at Nuenen in Brabant.
Van Gogh mentioned this drawing in a letter to his friend the painter van Rappard (R45) of May 1884 as 'Thatched Roofs': it was one of three pen and ink drawings which he was sending as examples of his recent work. The other drawings sent at the same time seem to have been 'Little Ditch' (F.1243), which resembles this in having a dark framing border in ink, and 'Pines in the Fen' (F.1249). After saying that he would have preferred the pen strokes in these drawings to follow the lines of the forms and to have strengthened the tones of the masses, he added: 'I had to do it roughly and quickly for the time was rather short for catching the right effect of light and shade, and the tone of the scene, and Nature as it was at that very moment.' The Tate's drawing was probably executed two months earlier as it closely resembles a pen and ink sketch, apparently of the same site, in another letter to van Rappard (R42) written in March. Also the scene is still wintry.
A very similar group of cottages appears in the oil painting F.190, known as 'Village at Sunset'.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.290-1, reproduced p.290