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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Green Wheat Field with Cypress” by Vincent van Gogh (National Gallery, Prague)

Vincent van Gogh - Green Field

“Green Wheat Field with Cypress” by Vincent van Gogh

“Green Wheat Field with Cypress” by Vincent van Gogh was completed in 1889, while van Gogh was voluntarily incarcerated at the asylum of St. Paul near Saint-Rémy in Provence, France. Van Gogh created several paintings of wheat fields with cypresses when he was able to leave the asylum and explore the landscape.  This painting does not manifest the psychological tension that can be found in some of his other pictures during this period.

Van Gogh was fond of painting cypresses and wheat fields, and he depicted them many times over the years. They symbolised the cycle of life and death, and he found them inspiring and comforting.  At the time of this painting, van Gogh wrote to his sister that he had just completed a painting depicting:

“a field of yellowing wheat surrounded by brambles and green bushes. At the end of the field a little pink house with a tall and dark cypress tree that stands out against the distant purplish and bluish hills, and against a forget-me-not blue sky streaked with pink whose pure tones contrast with the already heavy, scorched ears, whose tones are as warm as the crust of a loaf of bread.”

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure. He created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They were characterised by bold colours and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

Facts about Vincent van Gogh

  • Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands
  • Initially, van Gogh planned to be a pastor and worked as a lay preacher in Belgium. It was only on being let go from this job that he decided that his future lay in painting.
  • Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27 years old.
  • Van Gogh never received any formal art training.
  • Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, worked in an art gallery and introduced van Gogh to many artworks.
  • Van Gogh visited many parts of Europe including Netherlands, France, Belgium and England.
  • Japanese woodblock prints profoundly influenced Van Gogh. He collected pictures of Japanese woodblock prints, and he practised making copies.
  • Van Gogh had several close relationships with many fellow artists, including Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard.
  • Van Gogh artistic career was only ten years.
  • Van Gogh was a prolific letter writer, especially to his brother.
  • He created over 900 paintings plus many more drawings and sketches.
  • He died at the age of 37.
  • As a poor artist, van Gogh didn’t have money to pay for models, so he painted himself instead. He created hundreds of self-portraits.
  • Van Gogh considered himself and many of his paintings to be failures.
  • Van Gogh cut off his own ear in 1888.
  • Experts believe that that Gaugin cut off Van Gogh’s ear, following a violent dispute and that they both conspired to blame it on van Gogh so that Gaugin would not be jailed.
  • Van Gogh wrapped up his removed ear and gave it to a prostitute in a nearby brothel.
  • Van Gogh suffered mental health challenges for many years, and in 1889 he voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy.
  • Van Gogh spent a year in the hospital, from which he created some of his most well-known paintings.
  • Van Gogh spent his adult life in poverty, surviving on cheap food. His diet consisted mainly of bread and coffee, he drank alcohol excessively and always had his pipe in hand.
  • After leaving the asylum, Van Gogh’s mental health continued to deteriorate, and in 1890, he shot himself in the chest. He died two days later.
  • There is speculation that Van Gogh did not shoot himself but that he was shot in a prank that went wrong. Van Gogh protected the identity of who shot him, by claiming that he shot himself.
  • Only 37 years old when he died, he had just sold one painting in his lifetime.
  • On his deathbed, van Gogh’s last words to his brother were “the sadness will last forever”.
  • Van Gogh’s brother died very soon after Van Gogh’s death.

Reflections

  • Was Van Gogh a pioneer of the post-impressionistic selfie?
  • In his self-portraits, he often appears as scruffy and unshaven, with deeply sunken eyes. How did he see himself?

Explore Vincent van Gogh

Green Wheat Field with Cypress

  • Title:                        Green Wheat Field with Cypress
  • French:                   Champ de blé vert avec cyprès
  • Artist:                      Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                        1889
  • Medium:                 Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions            92.5 cm × 73.5 cm (36.4 in × 28.9 in)
  • Period:                    Post-Impressionism
  • Museum:                National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic

Vincent van Gogh

  • Name:                   Vincent Willem van Gogh
  • Born:                    1853 – Zundert, Netherlands
  • Died:                     1890 (aged 37) – Auvers-sur-Oise, France
  • Resting place:      Cimetière d’Auvers-sur-Oise, Auvers-sur-Oise, France
  • Nationality:          Dutch
  • Movement:           Post-Impressionism
  • Notable works:

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“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
– Vincent van Gogh

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Photo Credit: 1) Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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