Landscape With Pollard Willows

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Landscape With Pollard Willows by Vincent van Gogh
Landscape With Pollard Willows
Oil on canvas on panel
43 × 58 cm (17 × 22.75 in)
Private collection
Location unknown, last known to be in Paris
Painted April 1884, Nuenen
F 31, JH 477

In the midst of Vincent's series of weaver paintings he was also working on this strange landscape of bizarre trees which has come to be known from this painting as a pollard willow. In his letters Vincent seems to refer to the tree incorrectly as a pollard beech, but it is a bit unclear due to the difficulty of being certain with handwriting and the translation from the Dutch. In the letter the word can be read as "knotberken" or pollard birch, but other people read it as "knotbeuken" which would be a pollard beech. Either way the tree was actually most commonly called a birch a few decades ago, but now is more commonly referred to as a willow. The trees are rare but found around Nuenen. Incidentally pollarding a tree is a method of cutting the branches back and leaving the tree with that gnarled appearance you see here. In the Middle Ages people cut the branches to make kindling, but today it is done to prevent a tree from growing to its natural height.

Perhaps this is not all about the art or Vincent but it does relate to the painting, and there is not much else we can say about this one with its unknown location and the average image that we have available.

Pollard Birches

Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam (1903);
J. A. Fruin, Rotterdam (1927-8);
W. Moll, The Hague;
W. Brinkman, Schipluiden, Netherlands;
Paris, private collection.