The Swamp, 1881
Vincent van Gogh
pen and black ink over graphite on cream laid paper
46.8 x 59.3 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15461)
In the spring of 1881 Vincent van Gogh returned to the Netherlands after several years in England, France and Belgium. He lived briefly with his parents in the village of Etten, from where he travelled on many excursions to study the Dutch landscape, a subject of great fascination for him. One such excursion took him, in June of that year, to a marsh called the Passiervaart, near the town of Seppe located some five kilometres from Etten. There, he made two drawings of the swamp, one of which the National Gallery is privileged to possess. Like his paintings, Van Gogh’s drawings were a means of deep personal expression and emotional release. The Swamp testifies to his use of landscape as a subjective extension of his own state of mind. The hard, graphic outlines and hatched shadowing featured in this sheet are characteristic of Van Gogh’s early work.