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Vincent van Gogh en Antoine Furnée

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image of Oud Holland - Journal for Art of the Low Countries

The small Van Gogh painting discussed in this article (fig. I) has never been published before. Originally, it belonged to Antoine Philippe Furnée (I86I-I897), whom Vincent had met in I883 in The Hague through Furnée père, the proprietor of a chemist's shop which also sold artists' paint. In the letters (365 (300), 372 (307) and 409 (342)) Furnée is referred to as 'the surveyor'. He was an amateur painter to whom Van Gogh gave advice. The two men would go out into the nearby countryside together to paint landscapes. In April I884 Furnee went to Java, where he remained until I897. He was probably already ailing on his return, for he died a few months later. His property passed to a brother, Antoine Louis Cornelis (I867-I965), a respected pharmacist of The Hague. The little painting, signed 'Vincent' at the bottom left, is done in oil on canvas pasted on cardboard, 30.5 by 23.I cm. Examination under fluorescent light shows it to be covered entirely with old varnish. On the back Furnée the pharmacist wrote: 'Chestnut tree on Broeksloot by Vincent van Gogh. This study was given by Vincent van Gogh to my brother A. Ph. Furnée (the surveyor)'. The gift accounts for the painting's being signed. Like many of the Hague paintings, this early work is of limited artistic merit. The poorly indicated space and forms are however offset by the good rendering of the contrast between light and dark areas. (Compare the paintings F 8a (fig. 3), F I92 (fig. 5) and the watercolour SD I680 (fig. 4).) The authenticity of the painting was established back in I963 in an appraisal by R. W. D. Oxenaar, and again at the Netherlands Institute for Art History by the present authors in I979, the year it was sold by the Furnee family. Two little pictures painted by Furnee on his expeditions with Vincent van Gogh come from the same source (figs. 6 and 7).


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