Boijmans wins restoration prize for Van Gogh painting

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is delighted to announce the receipt of support from the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund to investigate and restore Van Gogh’s ‘Poplars near Nuenen’. Is this painting a pivotal work in the artist’s oeuvre?

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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has been awarded the Museum Restoration Fund by the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) to restore Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Poplars near Nuenen’ (1885). The generous prize of €25,000 will enable the museum to undertake a through investigation and restoration of the painting. This is the tenth time that TEFAF has awarded the prize, marking an important anniversary for the fair, which takes place in Maastricht this year from 24 to 30 June. ‘Poplars near Nuenen’ will be displayed at the fair prior to the major restoration along with the findings from the preliminary investigation. It is the first time that TEFAF is presenting a work of art supported by the Museum Restoration Fund at the fair prior to restoration.


Sjarel Ex and Ina Klaassen, directors of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: “In addition to a being new typology, Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen provides state-of-the-art facilities for conserving the city’s extensive and diverse collection. We are delighted with the support from the Museum Restoration Fund and are extremely grateful that TEFAF has been putting art conservation in the international spotlight for the past decade. As a place for preservation and research, the Depot is ideally suited to give this masterpiece the restoration it deserves.”


Sandra Kisters, head of collections and research, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: “We have never previously been able to examine this work in such depth. Thanks to the Cultural Heritage Agency, the expertise of the Van Gogh Museum and paintings restorer Erika Smeenk-Metz, we will gain fascinating new insights into the work’s creation and the options that are open to us for conservation and restoration. We are very grateful to TEFAF for their support!”


Poplars at Neunen

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted the work in Nuenen, near Eindhoven, in 1885. The painting was donated to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in 1903 by twenty-six friends of the museum, making it the first of the artist’s works to enter a public collection. Almost 150 years after its creation, the work is in need of restoration. The paint layers are very unstable, partly because Van Gogh painted the work over another painting that had not fully dried. The restoration will be led by Erika Smeenk-Metz and will focus on stabilising the loose paint and possibly removing the varnish. The museum is conducting the investigation in partnership with specialists from the Cultural Heritage Agency and the Van Gogh Museum. The central question is whether the varnish can be removed, which would benefit the painting enormously from an aesthetic point of view. The team is also curious about the underpainting, which presumably depicts the Old Tower near Nuenen. Another crucial question is whether technical evidence can be found to support the theory that Van Gogh applied the lighter touches in Paris, which would make the painting a key transitional work between the artist’s Dutch and French periods.


The Museum Restoration Fund

The TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund was established in 2012 to support and promote professional restoration and related scholarly research of significant museum artworks. Championing art in all its forms, applications for its grants are open to museums from all over the world and artworks from any age. Each year, a maximum of €50,000 will be allocated to projects. The committee of independent experts usually selects two winners to each receive a maximum of €25,000 to support their restoration project.

TEFAF Maastricht is widely regarded as the world's premier fair for fine art, antiques, and design and is a showcase for the finest art works currently on the market. Alongside the traditional areas of Old Master paintings, antiques, and classical antiquities that cover half of the fair, you can also find modern and contemporary art, photography, jewelry, 20th century design, and works on paper.


About Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

The world-renowned art collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has over the span of 170 years expanded to more than 151,000 artefacts, which includes some 63,000 paintings, photos, films, pre-industrial design and design objects, contemporary art installations and sculptures, as well as 88,000 prints and drawings.

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