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Bert van Vliet writes:

Vincent and my great-great-grandfather Willem Leurs. For over two years now I am researching the life and work of the Hague School painter Johannes Karel (Jan) Leurs (1865-1938), my great-grandfather mother's side.

Soon I became aware that hís father, Wilhelmus Johannes (Willem) Leurs, so my gr-gr-grandfather (1828-1895), was one of Vincent's artsuppliers in The Hague during the years 1882-1885, even though Vincent lived the last two years of this periode in Nuenen. His other suppliers in The Hague were, as far as being called by name by Vincent: Hendrik Jan Furnée (1833-1894, the father of 'the land surveyor' Antoine Furnée), Joseph Smulders (1831-1895) and the widow Stam-Liernur, who happened to be the mother-in-law of Vincent's friend Herman van der Weele. It is still a question to me whether the book printer Frederik Jozef Belinfante (1843-1910), or his brother, might have been also Vincent's (fifth) supplier for a short periode of time.

Willem Leurs had his shop at Praktizijnshoek no.1 - being officially registred as living at Hofsingel no.1 - and subsequently Molenstraat no.3-5, Furnée had his at Korte Poten no.8, the widow Stam-Liernur had hers (together with her son?) at Papestraat no.15, Smulders at Spuistraat no. 55-57 and the brothers Belinfante had theirs at Paviljoensgracht no. 17-19, and later on also a bookshop at the Kneuterdijk. All these shops were within minutes walk from eachother and from for example the Goupils firm at The Plaats.

The relationship Willem Leurs-Vincent turned out to become a special one. Anxious to make money of his paintings and to pay off his debts too, Vincent asked Leurs - and probably Furnée as well - to exhibit some of his paintings in the windows of his shop. Leurs, at that time living and having his shop in the Molenstraat, agreed and in August 1885 Vincent sent him "a few cottages, the old church tower and some smaller studies with figures" (letter 421), in total "(a box containing) 7 paintings of different subjects, and to make it more complete ( ) 12 smaller painted studies" (letter 422).

Preparing a publication about Jan Leurs and his father Willem Leurs I try to identify these 19 paintings, which one could say were the first paintings of Vincent ever been exhibited in public, in the periode August-November 1885 in the windows of Leurs' shop at Molenstraat 3-5 in The Hague, so years before Vincent's paintings were exhibited 'officially', for example in 1892 at the Van Gogh exhibition organized by the Haagse Kunstkring.

At first Hulsker thought F84 was 'the old church tower' painting that was one of these 19. Later on it turned out that most probably it must have been F88. Amongst the other 18 might have been F90, F91, F170 and F1669 (all 'cottages') and F147 (Woman Lifting Potatoes) as one of the 'studies with figures'.

Were there 'landscape' and 'still life' paintings amongst these 19 too? If so perhaps F57 (Still Life with Pottery and Two Bottles) might have been one of them. Why could this be? It is not known for absolutely sure what happened with the 19 paintings Vincent had sent to Leurs. Obviously none of them had been sold at that time, at least not to Wisselingh and Tersteeg, as Vincent had hoped for (letters 422 and 434), and probably a number of them (most or all?) found their way to dealers, auctions and collections. Did Leurs sent them back to Vincent('s mother) or did Leurs - with Vincent's permission - keep the paintings for beeing paid off this way and in order to sell them still some day? It happened to be the artdealer Biesing, as Leurs having his galery in the Molenstraat, at no.65-69, who was the first owner of F170 (Cottage with Peasant Coming Home) and F57 as well. Businesslike for some time Leurs and Biesing probably were connected, although I don't know yet which way.

And as 'landscape' paintings concerns, being amongst these 19 exhibited at Leurs, I still don't know yet.

Sources for what I have told above are amongst others publications and studies of Martha Op de Coul and Louis van Tilborgh/Marije Vellekoop, provenance data of Vincent's paintings, his letters to Theo and The Hague City Archives.

Does anyone have more (precise) information about which might have been the 19 Van Goghs at my gr-gr-grandfather shop and what happened to them???

Bert van Vliet, The Netherlands.

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