Watermill at Gennep

Vincent Van Gogh

Molino de agua en Gennep

Gogh, Vincent Van

Zundert, 1853 - Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890

Watermill at Gennep, 1884

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection
Location: Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid

Oil on canvas

85 x 151 cm


Artwork history

  • C. Mouwen Jr., Breda  (Netherlands)

  • F. Muller, Sale Mouwen, Amsterdam, May 3, 1904, lot 5, lám. (not sold)

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, c. 1904 (On loan of “Mr x”since December 1904; n. 367, catalogue 1905)

  • Oldenzeel Art Gallery, Rotterdam

  • Oldenzeel, Auction, Rotterdam, December 10, e 1918, lot 42, lám.

  • F. J. P. Van der Eerden Art Gallery, Rotterdam

  • C. Staib, Rotterdam, 1927-1928

  • Regnault Jr., Laren  (Netherlands)

  • E. Regnault, Laren  (Netherlands), until 1947

  • E. J. Van Wisselingh & Co. Gallery, Amsterdam

  • Gutzwiller Collection, 1947

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, Impressionist Art from the Gutzwiller Collection, London, June 24, 1996. lot 14.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection


Vincent van Gogh, Rótterdam, Oldenzeel Art Gallery, n. 48


Vincent van Gogh, Rótterdam, Oldenzeel Art Gallery, n. 45

1927 - 1928

Kunsthandel Unger en van Mens, Rótterdam, n. 18


De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, . (no figuró en el catálogo)


Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, n. 28, p. 120

1997 - 1998

The Spirit of the Place. Masterworks from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Nueva York, The Frick Collection; Hartford (CT), Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, n. 13, p. 50


La pintura española del cambio de siglo en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Zaragoza, Palacio de Sástago, . (no figuró en el catálogo)

1998 - 1999

Masterworks from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Tokio, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Takaoka, Takaoka Art Museum; Nagoya, Matsuzaka Art Museum; Sendai, Miyagi Museum of Art, n. 45, p. 108


Do impresionismo ó fauvismo: A pintura do cambio de século en París. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, n. 26, p. 84

1999 - 2000

Naturalezas pintadas de Brueghel a Van Gogh. Pintura naturalista en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 50, p. 148


De Corot a Monet. Los orígenes de la pintura moderna en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Valencia, Museo del Siglo XIX, p. 96


Van Gogh, Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, n. 14, pp. 162, 259, 289


Landschaften von Brueghel bis Kandinsky. Die Ausstellung zu Ehren des Sammlers Hans Heinrich Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, n. 53, p. 142


Il trionfo del colore. Collezione Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Kandinsky, Roma, Palazzo Ruspoli, p. 88

2002 - 2003

L´impresionismo e l'età di Van Gogh, Treviso, Casa dei Carraresi, n. 137, p. 418

2006 - 2007

Van Gogh in Budapest, Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts, n. 26, p. 268


Van Gogh. Heartfelt Lines, Viena, Albertina, n. 23, pp. 166, 167 (lám.), 168 (detalle) y 169


Vincent van Gogh - Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes, Basilea, Kunstmuseum Basel, n. 6, pp. 138, 303, lám. p. 139


Impresionismo y Aire libre. De Corot a Van Gogh, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 91, p. 183, lám.

2013 - 2014

Courbet, Van Gogh, Monet, Léger. Del paisaje naturalista a las vanguardias en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, n. 4, p. 56, lám. p. 57


Un món ideal: De Van Gogh a Gauguin i Vasarely. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols. p. 26, 27, 140 y 185.

  • -Plasschaert, A.: En Onze Kunst. 1903, 2a parte, p. 174.

  • -Faille, J.-B. de la: L’oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh. Catalogue raisonné. París – Bruselas, Les Éditions G. van Oest, 1928, vol. 1, n. 125, p. 44 (listed as”Le moulin à eau, Novembre 1885″); vol. 2, lám. XXXII, n. 125.

  • -Vanbeselaere, Walther: De hollandsche periode (1880-1885): in het werk van Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Amberes, De Sikkel, 1937, pp. 283, 415.

  • -Tralbaut, Marc Edo: ”In Van Gogh’s voetspoor te Nunen en omgeving III”.  De Toerist. June 1, 1955, vol. 34, n. 11, pp. 372-384.

  • -Tellegen, A.: ”Van Gogh publicaties (2)”. Museumjournaal. 1968, n. 13, n. 2, pp. 117-122.

  • -Faille, J.-B. de la: The Works of Vincent van Gogh. His Paintings and Drawings. [Ed. rev. y aum.]. Amsterdam, Meulenhoff International, 1970 , n. F125, pp. 84, 85 (fig.), 616 (listed as “Neuenen November 1884”)

  • -Lecaldano, Paolo: Tout l’oeuvre peint de Van Gogh. París, Flammarion, 1971. Les Classiques de l’art, vol. 1, p. 96, fig. 62.

  • -Hulsker, Jan: The Complete Van Gogh. Paintings. Drawings. Sketches. New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1980, n. JH525, p. 123.

  • -Op de Coul, Martha: ”Nuenen en omgeving in het werk van Vincent van Gogh”. Van Gogh in Brabant: schilderijen en tekeningen uit Etten en Nuenen. [Exhib. Cat.]. Zwolle, Waanders, 1987, pp. 92-101, fig. 82.

  • -Op de Coul, Martha: ”A painter impression of Brabant: a joint work by Vincent van Gogh and Anton Kerssemakers”.  Simiolus. 1989, n. 19, n. 4, pp. 271-276.

  • -Walther, Ingo F. y Metzger, Rainer: Vincent van Gogh. L’Oeuvre Complète. Peintures. Oldenburg, 1990, vol. 1, p. 54, lám.

  • -Van Hoek, J.: ”Vincent van Gogh. Watermolens”. De Drijehornickels. December, 1995, vol. 4, n. 3 , pp. 75-82.

  • -Hulsker, Jan: The New Complete Van Gogh. Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. Revised and Enlarged Edition of the Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of Vincent van Gogh. Amsterdam, J. Meulenhoff – Philadelphia, John Benjamins, 1996 , n. 525, p. 123, lám.

  • -Sotheby’s (aut. corp.): Impressionist Art from the Gutzwiller Collection. [Auction Cat.]. London, June 24, 1996 , pp. 43-45, lám.

  • -Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias: obras maestras de la coleccion Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao]. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1997, n. 28, p. 120. [Sheet by Ronald Pickvance]

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, p. 338, lám. p. 339 [Sheet by Fred Leeman]

  • -Van Gogh in Budapest. Geskó, Judit (ed.). [Exhib. Cat.]. Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, n. 26, pp. 268-69, lám. [Sheet by Mónika Kumin].

  • -Van Gogh. Heartfelt Lines. Schröder, Klaus Albrecht… [et al.] (eds.). [Exhib. Cat. Viena, Albertina]. Colonia, Dumont, 2008  , n. 23, pp. 166-169, lám. y detail [Sheet by Fred Leeman]

  • -Vincent van Gogh – Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes. Zimmer, Nina y Werthemann, Seraina (eds.). [Exhib. Cat.]. Basilea, Kunstmuseum Basel – Ostfildern, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2009.

  • -Werthemann, Seraina y Zimmer, Nina: “Nuenen”. Basilea 2009, pp. 120-127, cit. p. 125.

  • -Borobia, Mar y Alarcó, Paloma (eds.): Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Obras escogidas. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2011, p. 166, lám. p. 167.

  • -Alarcó, P. y Borobia, M. (eds.): Guía de la colección. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2012, p. 236, lám.

  • -Courbet, Van Gogh, Monet, Léger. Del paisaje naturalista a las vanguardias en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2013,  n. 4, p. 56, lám. p. 57 [Exhib. Cat.]

  • -Un món ideal: De Van Gogh a Gauguin i Vasarely. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols. p. 26, 27, 140 y 185. [Sheet by Fred Leeman]. [Exhib. Cat]

Expert report

With its generous panoramic shape of one metre and a half, this painting is by far the largest of a group of works representing watermills that Van Gogh made in 1884. Its unusual shape may have been inspired by a decorative series representing the “Four Seasons” that was meant for Antoon Hermans new residence at Eindhoven. All these watermills were in walking distance from his parental home in Nuenen, near Eindhoven. This water-mill with its two wheels can be identified with the water-mill at Gennep in the river Dommel. The wooden structures are the mill proper; behind it a farmhouse can be seen that also contained the home of the millner. Marc Edo Tralbaut identified the mill and reproduced several photographs made in situ.

Van Gogh´s authorship can be conferred from several primary and secondary sources. In a letter to be dated in the third week of November, Van Gogh wrote: “These days I am still working outdoors, although it is freezing considerably here. I am working on a rather large study (more than one metre) of an old water mill at Gennep [letter to his brother Theo, November 1884], on the other side of Eindhoven. I want to finish this work completely outdoors-but it will surely be the last work that I have done outside this year.” The letter, and therefore this painting, can be dated to the third week of November, since the temperature began to drop below zero in this week. When Van Gogh carried the large study home, it attracted someone’s curiosity: “Yesterday I just brought home that study of the water mill at Gennep, which I painted with pleasure. It has brought me a new friend in Eindhoven. He wanted to learn to paint at all costs, so I visited him and we started immediately.” This pupil was Anton Kerssemakers, who later remembered to have seen Vincent at work on this painting.

Kerssemakers told that Van Gogh used copaiva balsam, a substance used in oil painting to inhibit the drying process of the paint, permitting a longer working process. According to Kerssemakers, he used it too generously: “the sky in the painting melted down, so he had to scratch it off with a palet knife and repaint it.” This would still be visible when on careful inspection. Indeed, if one looks at the water on the right, there is a blueish reflection of the sky and near the wheel, a little blue is still visible. Probably, the grey clouds were an afterthought.

Kerssemaker’s observations are the more remarkable since it is the relationship between the bright but overcast sky and the darker mass of the river and the houses that is exploited by Van Gogh with great aesthetic success.

His brother Theo had reproached him that he painted too darkly and Vincent felt that in this painting of the Gennep mill, he had “made progress in painting technique and colouring.” The dark masses of the water and the houses are treated with varied colours; red and blue touches create a lively effect of space and light. A rim of pale sunlit clouds under a dark zone reinforces the strong horizontal effect of the composition. A little to the right over the mill, sunrays are piercing the clouds and the light falls on the water behind the wheel. These bright spots in the painting create strong vertical reflections in the river in the foreground, thus providing a dramatic counterpoint to its horizontal structure. At the left, he made the dark, enclosed space vivid through colour contrasts; at the right the deep space is filled with direct lightfall. Similar effects were familiar to him from the work of the French landscape painter Jules Dupré, whom he admired. It seems that this magnificent contre-jour effect only came to the Van Gogh as he was forced to rework his painting. He was so much satisfied with the result, that he made a watercolour copy of it (F1144a; JH 523, present location unknown). In the watercolour, the light contrasts seem to have been reinforced. Annet Tellegen has ascribed another watercolour representing almost the same view to Anton Kerssemakers.

Fred Leeman