Van Gogh helps highlighting rural destinations in the Netherlands

Van Gogh is again at the heart of a tourism marketing campaign launched by the Netherlands Tourism Board. One of the most famous painters the Netherlands has ever produced settled 140 years ago in two small rural communities: Nuenen in North Brabant and Hoogeveen in Drenthe. A perfect opportunity to celebrate Van Gogh’s rural legacy in the Netherlands.

In 2023, it is exactly 140 years ago since the Netherlands’ most famous painter Vincent Van Gogh arrived in Hoogeveen in Drenthe. Later in that same year, the painter settled in Nuenen in North Brabant. This looks like the perfect celebration to look at rural Netherlands and make international travellers discovering smaller communities. The NTB theme ‘Rural Van Gogh’ is the guiding thread for visitors to the Netherlands during the entire year.

Opening of Van Gogh Village Museum in Nuenen

In 1883, the 30-year-old Vincent van Gogh settled in Nuenen, the place where he first devoted himself to his painting and drew inspiration from nature and peasant life. In the following two years, he painted as much as a quarter of his entire oeuvre, including his first true masterpiece: The Potato Eaters. The Van Gogh Village Museum is the successor of the Vincentre, featuring a new building and revamped permanent exhibition that tell the story of the painter’s personal and artistic development in Nuenen. The architecture and layout have been completely redesigned, and the museum is now home to Vincent’s Lightlab, where visitors can experiment with the effects of these colours and light.

The idea behind the Lightlab is based on letters from Vincent to his brother, Theo, in which he described how he was inspired by the palette of colours found only in North Brabant.

The opening of the museum in Nuenen makes the starting point of a series of activities taking place in 2023 under the year’s theme.

The ‘Rural Van Gogh’ campaign

In 2023, the provinces of Drenthe and North Brabant put the painter in the spotlight in themed series of activities. The main body of this series will focus on the years he spent in the Netherlands, his love of nature and the countryside, and his connection with the provinces.

Vincent van Gogh’s short yet eventful life was punctuated by a large number of moves to various places in Europe. Although his period in France has earned the artist his fame, he spent most of his life in the Netherlands. North Brabant is the region where he spent the majority of his life and where he grew as a person and an artist. Despite struggles with his family, faith, and emotions, he moved back home in order to establish himself as an artist, and it was here that he produced his first masterpiece.

For a short but defining period of his life, the painter stayed in Drenthe, where he wrote many letters describing the impression the landscape made on him. His later work was heavily influenced by the landscape, the raw nature of peasant life, and the various effects of light. It is therefore no surprise that Vincent van Gogh’s letters regularly pay homage to his unfaltering love for Brabant and Drenthe’s countryside, and this defining theme in his work can still be admired in many places in North Brabant and Drenthe.

Activities in Drenthe and North Brabant

Following the opening of Nuenen’s Van Gogh Village on 20 April and the renovated Van Gogh House in Nieuw-Amsterdam, Drenthe also opens to the public in summer 2023. In addition to the opening of the revamped Vincent van Gogh House in Zundert – the painter’s birthplace – in the autumn, the Drents Museum is running a dedicated exhibition in September. Besides a wide range of activities in Drenthe and Brabant, 2023 is also the year in which the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam celebrates its 50th anniversary and the Van Gogh Europe partners celebrate Van Gogh’s 175th birthday.

Visit, the official website of the Netherlands Tourism Board has the full story about Vincent van Gogh’s time in North Brabant and Drenthe and his love for the landscape. As well as a lot more information about the painter and the many places in the Netherlands linked to his legacy!

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