View of the Sea at Scheveningen
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Van Gogh’s stormy View of the Sea at Scheveningen foreshadowed the rocky times ahead for this painting.

It was dawn on December 7, 2002 and one of the world’s most infamous art heists was about to go down at the Van Gogh Museum. Two burglars used a ladder to climb onto the museum’s roof; broke a window with a sledgehammer; grabbed two Van Gogh paintings (one of which was View of the Sea at Scheveningen); slid down a rope and escaped into the morning.

The theft was on the FBI’s list of Top 10 art crimes for years. Finally, 14 years later, police in Naples, Italy recovered the paintings. Their investigation, which they called “Vincent” (super creative codename, guys), led them to uncover the artwork in an Italian mobster’s country home. Of course. The paintings were found wrapped in sheets and hidden inside a wall. C’mon, what’s the point of buying stolen art if you’re not even going to look at it?! Luckily, the paintings suffered very little damage and were able to return to their rightful home on the museum’s walls.

Painted in 1882 while Van Gogh was living in The Hague, View of the Sea at Scheveningen was one of his earliest works, and one of his first oil paintings. Luckily for us, Van Gogh wrote about this painting in a letter to his brother Theo, so we have all the juicy details about Vinny’s trip to the seaside to paint the storm. “But it was a nasty little storm — all the nastier — and all the more impressive the longer you looked, because it made so little noise,” he wrote in his letter. So nasty in fact that sand apparently kept blowing into the paint: “There’s already a lot of sand in the one, but with the second, when there really was a storm and the sea came very close to the dunes, I had to scrape everything off twice because of the thick layer of sand completely covering it.” To beat the storm, Van Gogh worked super quickly, even squeezing the paint directly out of the tube to make the crests of the waves. Of course, after all of that Van Gogh caught a cold. Poor Vinny. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to paint outside during a storm?!




  1. “Two Van Gogh paintings stolen,” BBC News, published Dec 7, 2002,
  2. Siegal, Nina, “As Stolen Van Goghs Return to View, a Thief Tells All,” New York Times, published March 19, 2017,
  3. McKenna, Josephine, “Van Gogh masterpieces stolen from Amsterdam in daring heist 14 years ago turn up in Italian mafia's country mansion,” The Telegraph, published Sept 30, 2016,
  4. Escritt, Thomas, “Stolen Van Gogh paintings back in Amsterdam after 14 years,” Reuters, published March 21, 2017,
  5. “View of the Sea at Scheveningen,” Van Gogh Museum, accessed Feb 10, 2018,
  6. “To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, Saturday, 26 August 1882,” Van Gogh Letters, accessed Feb 10, 2018,

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather

Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather, also known as View of the Sea at Scheveningen (Dutch: Zeegezicht bij Scheveningen), is an early oil painting by Vincent van Gogh, painted at Scheveningen near The Hague in August 1882. It is held in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh made his first paintings in December 1881, under the supervision of Anton Mauve, the husband of Van Gogh's cousin, Ariëtte (Jet) Sophia Jeannette Carbentus. This work was made in Van Gogh's second attempt at painting in August 1882.

The painting shows the beach at Scheveningen, on the North Sea coast a few miles from The Hague, on a stormy day on 21 or 22 August 1882. The painting was made quickly, en plein air, on an easel at the beach, with the wind whipping up sand and nearly blowing Van Gogh off his feet. He managed to scrape most of the wind-blown sand off the thick wet painting, but some remains.

The painting is an Impressionist take on the grey-tinged seascapes of Hague School paintings such as Hendrik Mesdag's 1881 Panorama of Scheveningen. The composition is broken into three horizontal zones: a threatening grey sky with dark roiling clouds, the greenish-grey sea with lines of white-capped waves crashing onto the shore, and the beach and sand dunes in browns, oranges, yellows and greens. A number of people are on the beach, some fishwives in their white bonnets, watching as a group of men with horses and a cart are about to pull on a rope attached to a waiting fishing boat to bring it safely ashore. The people are suggested by a few economical brushstrokes, and the breakers by thick lines of paint applied directly from the tube.

The work measures 34.5 by 51 centimetres (13.6 in × 20.1 in). It was catalogued as "F4" in Jacob Baart de la Faille's 1928 The Works of Vincent van Gogh and as "JH187" in Jan Hulsker's 1978 The Complete Van Gogh.

The painting was stored at the Van Gogh family house in Breda. Along with many early other works, it was left behind in the attic when the family moved away in 1886, and it came into the possession of a carpenter, Adrianus Schrauwen. It was sold as part of a job lot of worthless "rubbish" to the merchant J.C. Couvreur in 1902, and it came to Kunstzalen Oldenzeel in Rotterdam. It was bought by tobacco importer Gerlach Ribbius Peletier in 1903 for the record price of 2,500 guilders, when other works by Van Gogh were selling for less than 1,000 guilders. It was inherited by his daughter Liesbeth Ribbius Peletier, and she donated it to the state of the Netherlands on her death in 1989.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather.

Comments (1)


Great atmospherics, and van Gogh appears to be foreshadowing the foiling revolution with that boat. He truly was a genius. Five stars...