Fisherman on the Beach


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Fisherman on the Beach by Vincent van Gogh
Fisherman on the Beach
Oil on canvas on panel
51 × 33.5 cm (20 × 13.25 in)
Kröller-Müller Museum
Otterlo
Netherlands
Europe
Painted August 1882, The Hague
F 5, JH 188

Vincent was spending quite a bit of time at Scheveningen painting dunes, seascapes, and the people of the area, and he tells Theo in August 1882 "... another souvenir is that I’ve caught a cold again, with the results you know about, which now force me to stay at home for a few days. In the meantime I’ve painted some figure studies..." He is surely referring to this painting and Scheveningen Woman (F 6, JH 189), also commonly known as Fisherman's Wife on the Beach.

These works are odd, the people really not having much in the way of facial detail, and Vincent was having trouble painting figures. In August the following year he reflects back on this in a letter to Theo.

"A very heavy burden has largely fallen from my shoulders of late. Last year I repeatedly tried to paint figure studies. Well, I was driven to desperation by the way they turned out. Now I’ve started again and I no longer have anything directly hindering me in the execution, because I draw much more easily than last year. Then I got confused every time I lost my drawn sketch while painting. And had to work a long time to do that sketch, so that if I could only have the model for a short time absolutely nothing turned out well.
But now I don’t give a rap if the drawing is erased, and I always do them directly with the brush, and enough form comes into it to make the study useful. This is why I say that I see my way more clearly now; I know that I’ll need many studies, but they won’t be more difficult for me than drawing them. And so plenty of painting this year and we’ll have light. That’s certainly my hope."

To Theo van Gogh, 26 August 1882
To Theo van Gogh, 3 August 1883

PROVENANCE
Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam (1903);
Sale Rotterdam (oldenzeel) 10 December 1918;
H. P. Bremmer, The Hague (until 1920);
Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands.