Water Mill at Opwetten

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Water Mill at Opwetten by Vincent van Gogh
Water Mill at Opwetten
Oil on canvas on panel
44.9 × 58.5 cm (17.625 × 23 in)
Private collection
Painted November 1884, Nuenen
F 48, JH 527

Another of the mill paintings Vincent was working hard on as winter approached in November 1884. There are several of the mill at Gennen, this one is a different mill but is similar in the use of backlighting and a dark canvas with a dramatic sky. While the painting is dark, the thick impasto paint and the subtle coloration now visible in the improved image that is available, reveal an artist growing in ability and confidence. As it is in a private collection we are lucky that the work went to auction at Sotheby's, London on 20 June 2013 as that led, as often it does, to better images of the painting being made available. The final sale price was US$2,030,508, over four times more than the high estimate of US$463,410.

The mill has a long and storied history, being built in the 11th century, making it over 1,000 years old. Over the centuries it suffered a partial fire in 1664 and was totally burned down in 1764, then rebuilt. In 1973 one of the many millers from over the years, Gerardus van Hoorn, turned 100 years old, and he said he had seen van Gogh painting the mill, and gave him some bird's nests which Vincent used in his still life work.

Below we have included a photograph from the early 20th century taken from the spot Vincent painted the mill, and a color photograph of the mill as it looks today.

Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam;
Tabingh Suermondt, Velp, Netherlands;
Mrs. J. J. E. Issel de Schepper-Tabingh Suermondt, Aerdenhout, Netherlands;
Sale London (Sotheby's) 30 March 1966;
A. T. Smith, London;
Sale London (Sotheby's) 20 June 2013;
Private collection.

Water Mill at Opwetten Early 20th Century Photograph