River Landscape with a Boat Harbour

Ado Vabbe River Landscape with Boat Harbour 1934 oil, cardboard 45 × 55.3 cm

Landscapes did not occupy any particularly important place in Vabbe’s early oeuvre, although he expressed yearning for nature in his letters from Paris. Yet he arrived at painting nature more programmatically only in the 1930s, when he withdrew from public life in art and turned to a certain asceticism. He did not want to actively participate in social life and the art world anymore. It is thus to be expected that he would resort to painting nature at that point, though his approach is nevertheless somewhat surprising. We notice a liberal use of paint. It is applied thickly to the cardboard in layers. Vabbe has tried to find nuances in colouring in his treatment of trees and the water surface, suddenly thirsting for such nuances. That is somewhat surprising since earlier on, reality was something that Vabbe reorganised in his works and in that process, colour did not have that much of a covering, decorative or conceptual function. Now suddenly, colour itself is important. Vabbe admittedly paints a realistic narrative, but the main characters here are not the boat, the little house and nature, but rather colour.