Miriam, creator of Let’s Trail Van Gogh, writes:
I have been a fairly frequent visitor to Amsterdam over the years. In fact I realised I was pregnant with my son John when I got queasy on a canal trip there about thirty years ago. I first visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam around 1996. At the time I didn’t know much about him except for Sunflowers and maybe Starry Night (and that only because of Don McLean). I was shocked by his early work, dark and dare I say ugly; his Potato Eaters struck me as repulsive and his depictions of peasants were far too gritty for my taste at the time. These raw and socially aware works were such a contrast to his later colourful and beautiful depictions of flowers, trees and open fields that I couldn’t believe they came from the same artist. Van Gogh’s development as an artist was truly extraordinary; the breakthrough coming in the years he spent in Paris when he was exposed to the use of colour by the Impressionists. The Van Gogh Museum is transformed from those days and is now one of the highlights of a trip to Amsterdam. My opinions have also been transformed and I now understand his early work as a means of a deeply troubled young man demonstrating his empathy with the poor and downtrodden.
The potato eaters
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