Is This The Best Online Resource Of Vincent Van Gogh Paintings?

Dutch museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, have launched Van Gogh Worldwide, a comprehensive database for Van Gogh paintings

Nov 8, 2020By Antonis Chaliakopoulos, MSc Museum Studies, BA History & Archaeology
Almond blossom, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890, Van Gogh Museum (left); Starry night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, MoMA (right); Self-portrait, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, Musee D’Orsay (center).

A group of Dutch Museums has released a comprehensive database for Van Gogh paintings. The name of the database is Van Gogh Worldwide. It is a collaboration of the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the RKD–Netherlands Institute for Art History, and the Cultural Heritage Laboratory of the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) of the Netherlands.

The new database gives access to over 1,000 Vincent Van Gogh paintings and works on paper.

This week European museums closed one after another as European countries entered into a new round of lockdowns. Besides, just two days ago, the Vatican museums announced they were closing just like every museum in England.

The Netherlands followed the other European countries into this new attempt to limit the spread of the virus. As a result, Dutch museums, which include some of the most popular museums in Europe, are now closed.

So if you are feeling sad that you cannot visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, don’t worry. Now, you can experience Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings online.

A Database For Van Gogh Paintings

Van Gogh Worldwide includes more than 1,000 Van Gogh paintings and paper works.

The project is a collaboration between three founding partners; the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History, the Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum

These three partners collaborated with multiple museums, specialists, and research institutions like the National Heritage Laboratory of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. The result was Van Gogh Worldwide, a digital platform with more than 1000 Vang Gogh paintings and works on paper.

For each work, the database includes object data, provenance, exhibition and literature data, letter references, and other material-technical information.

A remarkable feature of the platform is that Van Gogh’s paintings are linked with the letters he sent mainly to his brother. This way it is possible to view the artwork and understand how the artist described it.

At the moment, all the works in the database come from the Netherlands. However, in 2021 the project will expand to include Van Gogh paintings and works from across the globe. At the moment it includes 300 paintings and 900 works on paper. The database hopes to include all 2,000 known Van Gogh artworks.

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Once finalized, this ambitious project will become the most complete digital resource on the Dutch painter.

The Mission Of The Website

Almond blossom, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890, Van Gogh Museum

The website of the project states that:

“Van Gogh Worldwide is not an authorised catalogue raisonné, but consists of continuously updated information about the works of Vincent van Gogh as published in J.-B de la Faille, The works of Vincent van Gogh. His Paintings and Drawings, Amsterdam 1970 but with some additions”

These additions include the following:

  • Drawings from Van Gogh’s sketchbooks and sketches in his letters.
  • Works discovered after 1970.
  • Works that De la Faille included in the catalog but are now proven to be forgeries are included as ‘previously attributed to Van Gogh’.

Other Van Gogh News From This Week

Self-portrait with bandaged ear, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, The Courtauld Gallery

Earlier this week a new study presented some interesting finds regarding the painter that paved the way from impressionism to expressionism. The research suggested that Van Gogh struggled with alcoholism and experienced delirium from alcohol withdrawal.

Famously Van Gogh cut off his left ear and handed it to a woman in a brothel. Right after that, he was hospitalized three times between 1888-9 in Arles, France.

According to the study published in the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders, Van Gogh relied increasingly heavily on wine and absinthe until his death in 1890.

The authors presented evidence to support their theory based on 902 of Van Gogh’s letters. During his time in the hospital, the Dutch painter wrote to his brother Theo that he was having hallucinations and nightmares. He also described his state as “mental or nervous fever or madness”.

For the researchers, these were symptoms of an enforced period without alcohol. This period was followed by “severe depressive episodes (of which at least one with psychotic features) from which he did not fully recover, finally leading to his suicide”.

The paper also explains:

“Those who consume large amounts of alcohol in combination with malnutrition, run the risk of brain function impairment including mental problems.”

“Moreover, abrupt stopping with excessive alcohol consumption can lead to withdrawal phenomena, including a delirium.” The researchers added.

“Therefore, it is likely that at least the first brief psychosis in Arles on the days after the ear incident during which he likely stopped drinking abruptly, was actually an alcohol withdrawal delirium. Only later on in Saint-Rémy, when he was forced to minimise or even stop drinking, he probably succeeded in it and he also did not have further withdrawal problems.”

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By Antonis ChaliakopoulosMSc Museum Studies, BA History & ArchaeologyAntonis is an archaeologist with a passion for museums and heritage and a keen interest in aesthetics and the reception of classical art. He holds an MSc in Museum Studies from the University of Glasgow and a BA in History and Archaeology from the University of Athens (NKUA) where he is currently working on his PhD.