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Back Garden of Sien

Back Garden of Sien's Mother's House, the Hague, 1882

Vincent van Gogh
Dutch, 1853-1890
Sepia ink, gouache, and graphite on paper, laid on Bristol board
18-1/4 x 23-7/8 in. (46.4 x 60.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on View

The Back Garden of Sien’s Mother’s House, The Hague, was one of six drawings commissioned to present picturesque scenes of the city by Vincent van Gogh’s art dealer-uncle, C.M. van Gogh. Far more than just a randomly selected view, the subject held great personal meaning for the artist. Indeed, the house and garden depicted in this meticulously rendered drawing belonged to the mother of van Gogh’s mistress and frequent model, Clasina (Sien) Hoornik. The personal connection with the location, however, seems lost beneath the artist’s precisely ruled pencil and ink strokes, where the extraordinary web of planes, lines and angles are punctuated only by the curve of the foliage, the potted plants, and the dabs of white paint. The rigidity was deliberate; at the time, van Gogh was experimenting with a gridded frame to help him practice perspective.

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