Water Damage and Warping

My dear Theo, Today I sent — carriage paid — crate V4 with the still lifes. To my regret, the two little sketches of Amsterdam are quite badly damaged. They got wet on the journey; then the little panels warped when they dried, and dust got into them.

It has been determined by researchers that The De Ruijterkade in Amsterdam (below) and View of Amsterdam from Central Station (right) were the small panels that were damaged. Vincent painted these during a trip to Amsterdam with his friend Anton Kerssemakers.
Other panels in this shipment included Still Life with birds’ nests, 3 x Baskets of potatoes, Baskets of apples, Still Life with a brass cauldron and jug, and others! Possibly even The parsonage at Nuenen, and possibly Farmhouse with Barn and Well which has clearly suffered water damage and warping at some point, not to mention the striking resemblance of pigment and use of brushwork between the two, AND which appears to be painted over a still life! Possibly a Birds’ Nest, or Fruit.
View of Amsterdam from Central Station
The De Ruijterkade in Amsterdam
The De Ruijterkade in Amsterdam
The De Ruijterkade in Amsterdam
The De Ruijterkade in Amsterdam
On Tuesday, April 30 1889, Vincent wrote to Theo:
Today I’m packing up a crate of paintings and studies. There’s one which is flaking, onto which I’ve stuck newspapers – it’s one of the best and I think that when you look at it you’ll see more clearly what my studio, now foundered, could have been. This study, as well as a few others, was spoiled by damp during my illness; The water from a flood rose up to a few feet from the house and, more importantly, when I came back water and saltpetre were oozing from the walls because the house had been without a fire during my absence“. The flood Vincent is referring to was flooding of the Rhône river.

There have been a few occasions where Vincent’s paintings were subject to damage, and since not all works are accounted for, we wonder if perhaps they were too badly damaged to consider saving? – For example, during mid-March 1884 Vincent mentioned to his friend Anthon van Rappard that quote: 

I’ve painted quite a lot these last few days, a seated girl winding shuttles for the weavers”.

(Not the same as Woman Winding Yarn)

Today, we have no knowledge of this painting; and perhaps too, another study from this period of the Parsonage Garden.

Farmhouse with Barn and Well had at some stage suffered water damage and as a result has warped the canvas, this in turn has caused paint flaking; given its dire condition one has to wonder why it still exists… and we are convinced, that we know the answer!

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