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“Wheatfield with Crows” by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh - Wheatfield with Crows

“Wheatfield with Crows” by Vincent van Gogh

“Wheatfield with Crows” by Vincent van Gogh depicts a dramatic, cloudy sky filled with crows over a windswept wheat field.

The sense of isolation in the painting is heightened by the path, in contrasting colors of red and green, leading nowhere. Also, the flight path and direction of the crows are uncertain, adding to the uneasy.

Van Gogh painted this windblown wheat field in July 1890, during the last few weeks of his life. Many have claimed it as his final painting and perhaps one of his greatest works.

In a June 1880 letter, Van Gogh’s compared himself to a bird in a cage. Van Gogh used the crows as a symbol of life, death, and rebirth. One of van Gogh’s favorite authors (Jules Michelet), wrote of crows:

“They interest themselves in everything and observe everything.
The ancients, who lived far more completely than ourselves in and with nature, found it no small profit to follow,
in a hundred obscure things where human experience as yet affords no light,
the directions of so prudent and sage a bird.”

Van Gogh wrote to his brother, saying that he had painted another three large canvases at Auvers. Two of these are described as immense stretches of wheatfields under turbulent skies. He expressed sadness, adding:

“extreme loneliness” (de la solitude extrême)

Van Gogh also stated that he believed that the canvases showed what he considers was healthy and fortifying about the countryside.

This painting is an example of van Gogh’s elongated double-square canvas compositions, used only in the last few weeks of his life, in June and July 1890.

Art historians are uncertain as to which painting was van Gogh’s last, as no clear historical records exist. The evidence of his letters suggests that “Wheatfield with Crows” was completed around 10 July, and Van Gogh died 29 July 1890, aged 37.

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 characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive, and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

Wheatfield with Crows

  • Title:                  Wheatfield with Crows
  • Artist:                Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                  June 1890
  • Medium:           Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions       Height: 50.2 cm (19.7 in); Width: 103 cm (40.5 in)
  • Museum:           Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh Museum – Wheatfield With Crows – Audio guide

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 the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and England.
  • Japanese woodblock prints profoundly influenced Van Gogh. He collected pictures of Japanese woodblock prints, and he practiced making copies.
  • Van Gogh had several close relationships with many fellow artists, including Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard.
  • Van Gogh’s 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 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.

VINCENT‘S SWAN SONG: Wheatfield With Crows by Vincent Van Gogh

A Virtual Tour of the Van Gogh Museum

Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent van Gogh


“The best way to know God is to love many things.”
– Vincent van Gogh


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

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