The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen

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The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen
Van Gogh - The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen.jpg
ArtistVincent van Gogh
YearMay 1884 (1884-05)
MediumOil on paper on panel
MovementPost Impressionism
Dimensions25 cm × 57 cm (9.8 in × 22 in)
LocationUnknown (stolen from the Singer Laren Museum on 30 March 2020)
OwnerGroninger Museum

The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen (Dutch: De pastorie in Nuenen), alternatively named The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (Dutch: De pastorie in Nuenen in het voorjaar) or Spring Garden (Dutch: Lentetuin: F185, JH484), is an early oil painting by 19th-century Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, created in May 1884 while he was living with his parents in Nuenen. Van Gogh made several drawings and oil paintings of the surrounding gardens and the garden façade of the parsonage.[1]

The painting was in the collection of the Groninger Museum in The Netherlands from 1962 to 2020. On 30 March 2020, it was stolen from an exhibition at the Singer Laren museum in Laren which had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]


Van Gogh lived in The Hague with Sien Hoornik and then alone for a few months in Drenthe in the northern Netherlands. He then went to live with his parents in the parsonage of the Dutch Reformed Church at Nuenen near Eindhoven in December 1883 where his father was pastor.[3] The family turned the laundry room into a studio in the back of the house.[4]

Van Gogh remained with his parents in Nuenen for nearly two years, producing about 200 drawings and paintings, including his first major work, The Potato Eaters. He moved to Antwerp in November 1885[5] and then to Paris in 1886.[6]


In Nuenen, Van Gogh documented the changing seasons in his paintings of the parsonage's garden, which was enclosed by a high stone wall and included a duck pond with a boat dock, paths and hedges, flower and vegetable garden plots and an orchard.[7]

Preceded by a series of wintery drawings,[8] this work was probably painted in May 1884.[1] It depicts a view of the garden with a dark-clothed female figure in the foreground. In the distance are the ruins of the old church, also depicted in works such as Old Church Tower at Nuenen, before it was demolished in 1885.[9] It uses the dark palette of greens and browns, typical of Van Gogh's early work, with touches of green and red in the painting indicating that winter has passed and spring has begun.[10] In a letter that Van Gogh sent to Anthon van Rappard in March 1884, he mentioned the change in the seasons: "Ben ook zoekende naar de kleur van den wintertuin. Doch die is reeds een lente tuin - nu. En is iets heel anders geworden." ("Am also searching for the colour of the winter garden. But it is already a spring garden - now. And has become something completely different.")[11]

The painting is unusually wide, measuring 25 cm × 57 cm (9.8 in × 22.4 in) without its decorative frame, exceeding double square.[12] Van Gogh may have worked with the help of a perspective window (a wooden frame strung with wires).[13] It had been in the collection of the Groninger Museum, in the Dutch city of Groningen, since 1962[14] but was stolen in 2020.


The painting was stolen from the Singer Laren museum in Laren, North Holland on 30 March 2020, Van Gogh's birthday. The painting had been on loan from the Groninger Museum.[2] At the time of the theft, the museum was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2][15] Police said the thief or thieves smashed through the glass doors with a sledgehammer around 3:15 a.m. and left before law enforcement responded to the alarm.[16][17] Museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm said, "I'm shocked and unbelievably annoyed that this has happened."[18]

In June, photographs of the painting with a copy of the New York Times dated 30 May were sent to detective Arthur Brand. Also in the photo was the book Meesterdief (English: Masterthief). He compared this to the theft of two paintings from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam in 2002. Groniger Museum director Andreas Blühm said he was pleased that the painting still existed and believed the photographs were genuine.[19] Since 1988, twenty-eight Van Gogh paintings have been stolen in the Netherlands, but all have been recovered.[20]

In early April 2021, Dutch police arrested a man in Baarn, Utrect in connection with the theft of the painting and also that of Twee Lachende Jongens met een Mok Bier by Frans Hals, which had been stolen from the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden, in Leerdam, Utrecht on 26 August 2020. Neither of the paintings had then been recovered.[21][22] Art detective Arthur Brand told a reporter that the person in custody probably did not know the location of the works because "stolen artwork was often moved around quickly by criminal gangs".[23] According to unnamed sources, the value of the painting was estimated as "up to £5m" in articles published by Deutsche Welle and The Guardian.[24][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rea, Naomi (30 March 2020). "Opportunistic Thieves Just Stole a Prized Van Gogh Landscape From a Locked-Down Dutch Museum Under Cover of Night". Artnet. Archived from the original on 31 March 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Vincent van Gogh in Nuenen, The Netherlands". Van Gogh Route. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  3. ^ "The Vicarage at Nuenen, 1885". Permanent Collection. Van Gogh Museum. 2005–2011. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Peasant Painter". Van Gogh Museum. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  5. ^ Siegal, Nina (16 October 2013). "Becoming Vincent Van Gogh: The Paris Years". The New York Times. New York City. Archived from the original on 16 November 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  6. ^ Fell, Derek (2005) [2004]. Van Gogh's Women: Vincent's Love Affairs and Journey Into Madness. New York City: Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 56. ISBN 0-7432-0233-3.
  7. ^ Route, Van Gogh. "Old Church, Nuenen, The Netherlands". Van Gogh Route. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  8. ^ van Heugten, S. (2018). Van Gogh and the Seasons. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-17971-1. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  9. ^ Letter 435, on or about Saturday, 8 March 1884,
  10. ^ "Burglary at Singer Laren". Singer Laren. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  11. ^ Lentetuin, de pastorietuin te Nuenen in het voorjaar (1884) - Vincent van Gogh,
  12. ^ Lentetuin, de pastorietuin te Nuenen in het voorjaar, Groninger Museum
  13. ^ Boffey, Daniel (30 March 2020). "Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020.
  14. ^ Verweij, Hilde (30 March 2020). "Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during coronavirus shutdown". Reuters. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Video shows thief stole van Gogh painting with sledgehammer". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 April 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Dutch Museum Says Van Gogh Painting Stolen in Overnight Raid". The New York Times. Associated Press. 30 March 2020. Archived from the original on 31 March 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  17. ^ "Robbers taunt police with photos of stolen Van Gogh". Dutch News. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  18. ^ Bailey, Martin (3 April 2020). "In recent decades 28 Van Goghs have been stolen in the Netherlands—but all have been recovered". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Arrest made in high profile Van Gogh, Frans Hals thefts; Paintings still missing". NL Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ Boffey, Daniel (7 April 2021). "Dutch police arrest man over £18m theft of Van Gogh and Hals paintings". The Guardian (Australia).
  21. ^ "Dutch arrest over Van Gogh and Frans Hals museum thefts". Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Dutch police arrest man over £18m theft of Van Gogh and Hals paintings". Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Dutch police arrest suspect in theft of Van Gogh, Hals paintings". Retrieved 8 April 2021.