Press release

In Line with Van Gogh

Exhibition dates: October 4, 2005 – January 8, 2006
Exhibition location: Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery

The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents the exhibition In Line with Van Gogh in conjunction with the landmark exhibition Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings. The ancillary exhibition, also curated by Colta Ives and Susan Stein, demonstrates that Van Gogh's achievement, neither solely intuitive nor accidental, was remarkably well informed. The 59 drawings and prints selected from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum will include works by Rembrandt, Daumier, Millet, Degas, Hokusai, Hiroshige, and other artists whose work influenced Van Gogh, as well as works by his contemporaries and followers such as Gauguin, Signac, Seurat, Matisse, and Munch. In Line with Van Gogh will be on view from October 4, 2005 to January 8, 2006.

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) cultivated a large appetite for pictures and developed a very broad knowledge of art. While working as a young art dealer in The Hague, Paris, and London between 1869 and 1876, also in Amsterdam where he was training to be a preacher between 1877–78, Van Gogh took every opportunity he could to visit museums and galleries and acquaint himself with the works of old masters, as well as his contemporaries. Many of the artists included in this exhibition, particularly Rembrandt, Delacroix, Millet, Daumier, and the Japanese masters of ukiyo-e had a resounding impact on his choice of subject matter and the evolution of his extraordinary drawing style while others, like Matisse and Klee, were early beneficiaries of his example

Van Gogh greatly admired Rembrandt and repeatedly turned to the work of the 17th-century master whom he called the "magician of magicians" and the "great and universal master portrait painter of the Dutch Republic." Rembrandt's drypoints and etchings, like the 11 exhibited here, no doubt were an influence on Van Gogh's expressive freedom with the reed pen, as well as on his choice of subject matter. His experience of the French countryside was informed by his memory of the works of Jacob van Ruisdael, Aelbert Cuyp, and other 17th-century Dutch landscapists.

Van Gogh also closely studied the work of French painters. The realist painter Jean-François Millet was a great source of inspiration. Both at the beginning and end of his career, Van Gogh made numerous copies and variants of Millet's compositions, inspired by their realism and respect for rural life. In the works of the 19th-century French landscape painter Théodore Rousseau, he recognized a sincere appreciation of nature and their kinship with the work of Ruisdael. Eugène Delacroix's art inspired and consoled Van Gogh throughout his life and he was particularly responsive to Delacroix's rejection of the academic approach in favor of expressive line. While he was working to improve his command of figure drawing, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo of his admiration for Honoré Daumier.

Like many of his contemporaries, Van Gogh was fascinated with the pictorial novelty of Japanese ukiyo-e prints, which flooded Europe after trade routes were reopened in the 1850s. He collected them avidly and tacked them up on the walls of his studio in Antwerp. In Paris, as the collection of prints he and his brother amassed grew into the hundreds, Van Gogh organized an exhibition of them at the Café Le Tambourin and even copied works by Kesai Eisen and Utagawa Hiroshige in several of his paintings. He must have leafed many times through his volumes of Katsushika Hokusai's One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, like the set on view. The full extent of ukiyo-e's influence on Van Gogh did not become clear until he took up drawing in earnest in Provence. Brandishing a fresh supply of locally cut reed pens, the artist seized upon an ingenious graphic vocabulary inspired by the flattened space and abbreviated calligraphy of the Japanese as embodied in the prints by Hiroshige and Hokusai on view in the exhibition.

Works by the artists Van Gogh associated with during his two-year sojourn in Paris, among them Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, are on view.

The correlating exhibition Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings will be on view from October 18 through December 31, 2005. Both exhibitions are featured on the Museum's website at A variety of educational programs will be offered in conjunction with these exhibitions, including lectures and an after-school Museum class for high-school students. A full afternoon of programming on November 20, called "Sunday at the Met," will include lectures and film on Van Gogh's life.


In New York, Vincent van Gogh: The Drawingsis made possible by United Technologies Corporation.

The exhibition catalogue is made possible in part by the Janice H. Levin Fund.

The exhibition was jointly organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

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