“Drawing is the root of everything, and the time spent on that is actually all profit.” ~ Vincent van Gogh writing to his brother Theo van Gogh, The Hague, 3 June 3, 1883
|Self-portrait, 1887, by Vincent van Gogh.|
Later, as an honours student at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, this latter-day Vincent wrote a thesis on the sun’s symbolism in van Gogh’s paintings. He took this further in research for his PhD and visited the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. There he was able to study the letters and view the Japanese prints van Gogh had collected as well as 17 folios of 1400 black and white woodblock prints by English artists that had been published in newspapers such as the Illustrated London News and The Graphic in the latter half of the 19th century. Until he saw them, Alessi had not known how large van Gogh’s print collection was and, realising how influential they must have been in his development as an artist, he decided to focus on this little researched aspect of his life. Back in Melbourne, he pored over van Gogh’s letters to locate where he had mentioned hundreds of other prints that had been lost from the collection, then he began painstakingly searching for them in Melbourne’s State Library which holds copies of both newspapers from the time.
| The Potato Harvest, 1885 Clement Edouard Bellenger. |
|The Sower, 1885 Clement Edouard |
|Sudden Evening Shower on the Great Bridge,|
1857, Utagawa Hiroshige. Colour wood-cut
|New Print of Insects & Small Creatures|
1883, Utagawa Yoshimara. Wood-cut
"The second room is devoted to Japanese prints ~ these were a huge influence on Van Gogh while he was in Paris. Van Gogh adored Japanese works because of their use of colour and also because of the serenity and harmony he found in them. Of course seasons are important for Japanese artists ~ and you will see in the exhibition a selection of works that are kept at the National Gallery of Victoria."
|Orchard in Blossom, 1887, Arles, by Vincent van Gogh|
|Portrait of Pere Tanguy, 1887, Paris.|
By Vincent van Gogh
|Actor in the Role of the courtesan |
Takao of the Miuraya House, 1861
by Utagawa Kunisada
Geoffrey Maslen is a Melbourne writer. His two latest books ~ An Uncertain Future: Australian birds in danger and Too Late: How we lost the battle against climate change are published by Hardie Grant Books (July 2017).
Melbourne Winter Masterpieces 2017: Van Gogh and the Seasons is at the National Gallery of Victoria from 28 April until 9 July 2017.
|Flowering Plum Orchard (After Hiroshige) 1887, Paris, by Vincent van Gogh. See main picture above for original print in Van Gogh's own collection.|
|Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige) 1887, Paris, by Vincent van Gogh. (See Hiroshige print above).|