Anton Mauve, The Return of the Flock, Laren

Anton Mauve, Van Gogh's Teacher

One of his late paintings, The Return of the Flock, Laren shows how skillfully Anton Mauve (1838-1888) could express light, landscape and animals with an almost monochromatic palette and a light, feathery touch of the brush. Mauve was born in Zaandam. At the age of twenty he headed to Oosterbeek, where he would explore new painting techniques inspired in part by the French Barbizon School, which used a looser style of painting than typical of the time, with softer brushstrokes and a focus on nature as the primary subject, not just a background.

A decade later Mauve moved to The Hague. There, he would exhibit some of his passion for painting animals. His early palette had been one of bright colors, but after his time in Oosterbeek, his palette became more subtle and soft, often working in almost monotone colors. These softer colors were typical of the The Hague School, and it is no surprise that Mauve would become one of their leading artists.

During his time in The Hague, Mauve became a prominent artist, both nationally and internationally. Part of that success came from his connections with the uncle of Vincent van Gogh, who was a prominent art dealer in The Hague. Mauve invited the younger Vincent to his studio at the end of 1881 and taught him elements of oil painting and watercolor. Mauve would have a strong artistic and personal impact on Van Gogh, who mentioned him more than 150 times in his various surviving letters. After Mauve’s early death, Van Gogh sent one of his iconic blossoming fruit tree paintings to Mauve’s widow. He titled the painting, Souvenir de Mauve, in memory of the artist.

Around 1885, Mauve moved permanently to Laren, a village near Hilversum. Mauve was not the only artist to move to this area that offered inspiring landscapes and scenery to the Realist painters of the time. Albert Neuhuys and Jozef Isräels were among the fellow artists in the area who collectively became known as the Larense School.

The Return of the Flock, Laren, painted in 1886-7, shows how Mauve had developed a style that was evocative yet still true to the everyday scenes that played out in the meadows around him. Mauve died suddenly of an aneurysm at the age of forty-nine. Although he may not be as recognizable a name today, he was certainly successful and highly respected in his lifetime. His paintings now hang in museums around the world.

For more detailed coverage of Rachel Ruysch and an analysis of Rose Branch with Beetle and Bee, read Issue 45 of DUTCH the magazine!

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Original article by: Alison Netsel