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Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Rapha x Van Gogh Museum®

Where artists feel at home.

07 September 2022

The Van Gogh Museum is an Amsterdam institution. Dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries, it’s a place of peace and tranquillity where creative minds come to pause in contemplation. And what the museum is to art lovers, Rapha Amsterdam is to cyclists.

Since we share the same passion in our purposes, Rapha Amsterdam and the Van Gogh Museum have come together to create a truly unique collaboration. Merging Rapha designs with the works of a master painter, we’ve created a special edition collection that pays tribute to one of the world’s most celebrated artists.

THE YELLOW HOUSE

It was Van Gogh’s dream to found a collaborative art colony where fellow artists could inspire one another whilst under the same roof. When he moved, in 1888, to Arles in Southern France following a bout of bad health, he believed he’d found such a place. The Yellow House was a stucco-faced building in which Van Gogh rented several rooms and was at his most prolific.

“In a deep dive of letters and artwork from Van Gogh’s time at the Yellow House, we found the phrase ‘chez nous’, or our place, was often used. This term shares the ethos of Rapha Amsterdam, to be a place where you can feel at home. Reading these intimate letters is like uncovering the layers of texture in his paintings. It felt like we’d travelled through time into his personal secret world. In the visual language of the collection, we sought to emulate this through the use of collage, tearing back layers of preserved conversations, memories and art.”

- Jess Money, Lead Graphic Designer

THE GALLERY

Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)

During his time at the Yellow House, Van Gogh completed more than 200 paintings. To create her design, Jess hand picked a selection of them, seeking to emulate the intricately layered nature of each in a collage representative of art and community, shared experience and collaborative energy.

The Yellow House (The Street)

September 1888 - oil on canvas - 72 cm x 91.5 cm
Van Gogh Museum®, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

In May 1888, shortly after moving into the Yellow House, he sent Theo a description and sketch: “It’s tremendous, these yellow houses in the sunlight and then the incomparable freshness of the blue.” The piece, which Van Gogh titled ‘The Street’, records the artist’s immediate surroundings: he often ate at the restaurant on the left, and the home of his friend, the postman Joseph Roulin, lay just beyond the second railway bridge. Vincent had finally found a place at the Yellow House where he could not only paint but also have his friends come to stay. His plan was to turn the yellow corner-building into an artists’ house, where like-minded creatives could live and work together.

The Pink Peach Tree

April-May 1888 - oil on canvas - 80.9 cm x 60.2 cm
Van Gogh Museum®, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Van Gogh painted many fruit orchards during his first weeks in Arles. There is an earlier, nearly identical version of this painting, which he completed in one sitting. In a letter to his brother, Theo, he wrote: “I’d worked on a no. 20 canvas in the open air in an orchard — ploughed lilac field, a reed fence — two pink peach trees against a glorious blue and white sky. Probably the best landscape I’ve done.” On his return home, he heard of the death of his uncle, Anton Mauve, a well-known painter who once taught Van Gogh. He dedicated that first work to Mauve, and made this new version later to send to Theo.

Field with Irises near Arles

May 1888 - oil on canvas - 54 cm x 65 cm
Van Gogh Museum®, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Van Gogh was captivated by the colours found in the surrounding landscapes of Arles. He particularly loved the contrast between the yellow and purple flowers found in the fields. Within these landscapes, he felt he could see a reflection of the world he knew from his collection of Japanese prints. Japanese artists used large areas of colour in their compositions, often with a sharp diagonal. They also regularly zoomed in on a detail in the foreground. Van Gogh adopted these elements in his paintings. It was just like “a Japanese dream”, he wrote to Theo. The painting was recently examined and restored and in the process the old, discoloured varnish layer which had dulled the colours was removed, and left the colours much brighter.

Wheatfield with a Reaper

September 1889 - oil on canvas - 73.2 x 92.7 cm
Van Gogh Museum®, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Van Gogh painted this walled field from his hospital room after admitting himself following a mental health crisis. For his first few months, he wasn’t allowed to leave the grounds. To him, the wheat became a symbol of the eternal cycle of nature and the transience of life. He saw the reaper as “the image of death . . . in this sense that humanity would be the wheat being reaped.” He added, however, that this death was “almost smiling. It's all yellow except for a line of violet hills – a pale, blonde yellow. I myself find that funny, that I saw it like that through the iron bars of a cell.”

Butterflies and Poppies

May-June 1889 - oil on canvas - 35 cm x 25.5 cm
Van Gogh Museum®, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

When creating this painting, Van Gogh actually began with the flowers and butterflies and only once they were finished did he fill in the blue background. This is evident from the broad strokes of blue paint occasionally covering the green stems of the flowers. He even left part of the canvas unpainted, with the bare cloth visible. Van Gogh skillfully captured the spirit of the delicate poppies – some with buds about to burst open.

Provençal Orchard near Arles

March-April 1888 - pencil, pen and reed pen and ink, watercolour, on paper, - 39.5 x53.6 cm
Van Gogh Museum®, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

It is not snow that can be seen on the branches and on the ground to the left, they are corrections by Van Gogh. He used white and pink opaque watercolour to give the blossoms a little colour. On the ground, he used the same paint to make changes to his drawing. He thought the lower left corner, with the signature and inscription, was too crowded, so he painted over the patchwork there. These light-coloured additions now stand out because the paper has turned brown over time.

VINCENT’S WORLD

Though the works that inspired our design were painted in Arles, Vincent’s homeland is an equally important part of the story. To celebrate the collaboration, we’ve created two routes, taking you on a tour of Vincent’s early life in Brabant, and his education in Amsterdam.

VINCENT’S CITY TOUR

 

23km

Following the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh the student with a route that sets out from Rapha Amsterdam and takes you past the Marinewerf, Zuiderkerk, Van Gogh Museum® and Trippenhuis, along with some other popular landmarks in the city. Once you’ve finished the tour, enjoy a free coffee back at the Clubhouse.

For the GPX route click here

VINCENT’S EARLY YEARS ROUTE

 

118km

A ride through Vincent van Gogh’s past in Brabant. The route starts in Breda and takes you via Etten-Leur towards Zundert, Vincent’s birthplace. From there, we zig zag past windmills en route to Nuenen where Vincent lived with his parents and completed a quarter of all his paintings.

For the GPX route click here

Only available in the Amsterdam Clubhouse.

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