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Van Gogh Museum

Vincent-van-Gogh-Painting

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

The Van Gogh Museum is located on the Museum Square, next to the Rijksmuseum and 20 minutes away from the Red Light District. This museum has the largest collection of art works made by Vincent Van Gogh in the world. The Van Gogh museum contains  200 paintings, 400 drawings and 700 letters by Van Gogh.

New: Prostitution exhibition Easy Virtue in the Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum - Prostitution Exhibition - Easy Virtue
An impression of the Easy Virtue gallery.

There is a brand new exposition in the van Gogh – all about sex work in the 19th century (1850 – 1910). It can be seen between February 19th and June 19th. Today (February 23), we visited the museum, because we were keen to see all these paintings and drawings of prostitution. The Easy Virtue was amazing! We really enjoyed it and learned a lot. We would definitely recommend this exhibition – it’s a must-see!

Prostitution in French Art, 1850-1910

In the second half of the 19th century the Paris avant-garde embraced every aspect of metropolitan life. The fringes of society were also part of this modern theme. Prostitution, which was ubiquitous in the French capital, proved to be a fascinating subject for artists. To secure public health and preserve high moral standards, France began to set up a regulatory system in 1802. Prostitution was tolerated under strict conditions, but it was not supposed to be visible, and polite society was shielded as much as possible from the sight of it. As a result, works of art initially contained only veiled references to the subject, but artists gradually lef less & less to the imagination.

A prostitute painted by Vincent Van Gogh
A prostitute painted by Vincent van Gogh.

Uncertainty and ambiguity

The regulations permitted registered prostitutes to walk the streets as soon as the gas street lamps were lit. Unregistered prostitutes could be imprisoned without trial, so they did their best to be unrecognizable as such. As a result, it was frequently difficult to distinguish between respectable women and prostitutes in the streets of Paris. Artworks treating the subject of prostitution were often deliberately ambiguous.

95% of the artworks we’ve seen are really good! A few of the Easy Virtue’s paintings are so impressive that we have to share it with you!

The Thorny Path (The Courtesan’s Carriage), 1873

Van Gogh Museum - Prostitution Exhibition - The Thorny Path
Source: The Philadelphia Museum of Art 

Thomas Couture – an influential history painter and teacher – described his painting as follows: “a real bitch attached to her carriage, to her luxury arid to her different lovers.” By means of this symbolic scene, he criticized the fact that women use their sexuality to gain power over men, and lamented the powerlessness of men to resist. At the same time, the painting was an indictment of the double standards of decadent French society.

Rolla, 1878

Van Gogh Museum - Prostitution Exhibition - Rolla
Source: Wikimedia.org

Gervex based this scene on the poem Rolla by Alfred de Musset. The painter depicted the protagonist, Jacques Rolla, the lewdest of all Parisian residents, on the point of committing suicide because he is ruined. He cast a last glance at Marion, the prostitute with whom he has just spent the night. The sight of this nude was considered so scandalous that painting had to be removed from the Paris Salon (the official art exhibition).

Buy Entrance Tickets for Easy Virtue Exhibition

You need to have a special entrance ticket to enter this exhibition. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Buy  a Van Gogh Museum with with Voucher Lane Access (and avoid the standard queues)
  • Try to visit the museum when it’s quieter: 9 am – 11 am

One of the best museums of Holland!

The inside of the Vincent van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The building is has several levels, each floor showing a different aspect of Van Gogh’s work and the work of his contemporaries. The museum itself was established in 1973, 83 years after Van Gogh’s death, as commissioned by the Dutch government. An audio tour through this museum can bring you closer Van Gogh’s work – it’s quite interesting to hear a bit more about these beautiful paintings.

Queen Beatrix visited the Vincent van Gogh Museum in 1990
Former Dutch Queen Beatrix during a visit to Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum in 1990.

About Vincent van Gogh

The collection of the Van Gogh museum mostly originated from the heritage of Vincent’s brother Theo. Vincent van Gogh studied Greek an Latin in Amsterdam for a year, in order to prepare for an education in theology which he never even started. Eventually, he devoted himself completely to painting.
As a painter, he was far ahead of his time; he managed to sell just a few paintings during his lifetime. His brother Theo sent him money from time to time, so that Vincent could survive. In 1890 he put an end to his short and turbulent life. He was 37 years old.

Van Gogh wasn’t that successful with the ladies either – quite often he visited prostitutes. He even painted some sex workers.

Vincent van Gogh postcard souvenir funny
We saw this postcard of Vincent van Gogh on Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp Market.

The Patato Eaters by Van Gogh

One of the most impressive paintings from Van Gogh’s early period is “The Potato Eaters”, showing a peasant family from the peat district east of Eindhoven – a city in the South of Holland. They made a poor living as peat cutters, and their meal consisted mainly of potatoes. Van Gogh brilliantly sketched their gnarled faces and the harshness of the lives of the poor in the country.

The Potato  Eaters by Vincent van Gogh. Go see it in Amsterdam!

TIP! Skip the Line at the Van Gogh Museum

When you want to take a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, the best thing to do is ordering an entrance ticket in advantage. Because of the popularity it’s better to buy a ticket online, so you can skip the line (which can be really long). It’s a waste of time to stand behind in the que.

Buy a Vincent van Gogh Priority Lane Voucher here

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