Celebrating Vincent Van Gogh’s 168th anniversary
In the first part of his life Van Gogh was not a painter but an art dealer and preacher who lived between the Netherlands, France and Great Britain. Born in North Brabant in March 1853, in the last 10 years of his life alone he was a full-time painter, producing over 900 paintings but, probably well ahead of his time, selling only one painting, while today his works are among the most appreciated in the world.
The painting on the left, Starry Night, depicts a night view along the Rhone River in Arles, France, where Vincent spent some time around 1888. As with many of his other paintings, he described it in his correspondence with his brother Theo and pointed out how fascinated he was by the contrast between the dark colors of the landscape and the series of lights along the banks of the river and the shining stars. This painting is normally exhibited at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
At the beginning of the spring of 1888, Vincent Van Gogh returned to Arles, France, and was struck by the beauty of fruit trees blossoming. this was for him a sign of renewal and rebirth, after a troublesome period for his mental health. Inspired by this spectacle of nature he painted a series of images featuring fruit trees in full bloom. The one on the right, known as the Pink Orchard, is now exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and depicts some blossoming apricot trees.
Flowers, and sunflowers in particular, were one of Vincent’s favorite subjects and there are several series with this subject. The Sunflowers on the right was painted in Arles in the summer of 1888 and is normally exhibited at the National Gallery in London. This version of the sunflower theme is quite different from the others in that it is played on many different tones of yellow alone and a myriad of flowers, some of which may have been added during the finalization of the painting
There are three different versions of this scene painted by Van Gogh in the summer of 1889, Wheatfield with Cypresses, while he was hospitalized in an asylum in Saint-Remy, in the south of France. All the paintings depict the view from his window to the asylum. The painting on the right, currently on display at the National Gallery, is the studio version, painted in September 1889. The first “plain air” version is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
The short YouTube video below discusses the linkage between Vincent’s mental health and his artistry.
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