Before Van Gogh moved to Saint-Rémy he made many paintings in Arles, like the Sunflowers, Starry Night over the Rhone and the Cafe Terrace at Night. After Van Gogh cut off his ear due to his bad mental problems, he decided to go into the asylum Saint-Paul-de Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. He stayed there from May 1889 - May 1890. His mental condition didn’t stop him from working hard. No less than 130 paintings were created, among them some of the world’s most famous paintings.

The Irises

In his first week in the asylum Van Gogh in May 1889 painted the Irises. Although it was just a studies for Vincent, his brother Theo was impressed by its beauty and brought it to the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. He wrote to Vincent about the exhibition:

"[It] strikes the eye from afar. It is a beautiful study full of air and life.”

Julien (Pere) Tanguy, the art grinder and art dealer in Paris, sold the Irises in 1892 (after van Gogh had died in 1890) to art critic Octave Mirbeau for 300 francs. Mirabeau wrote:

"How well he has understood the exquisite nature of flowers!”

In 1987 the Irises was sold to the Australian businessman Alan Bond for 53.9 million USD and resold in 1990 to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. It was the most expensive painting ever at that time.

Starry Night

Could Starry Night be the most famous painting in the world? Painted in June 1889 this was Vincent’s view from his bedroom window of the asylum on the second floor, just before sunrise. It is hard to believe now that Vincent didn’t send this painting to his brother to save money on postage. In a letter to Emile Bernard in November 1889 he seems to refer to Starry Night:

"However, once again I’m allowing myself to do stars too big, &c., new setback, and I’ve enough of that.”

And a month earlier Theo was critical about Starry Night in his letter to Vincent as well:

"I clearly sense what preoccupies you in the new canvases like the village in the moonlight or the mountains, but I feel that the search for style takes away the real sentiment of things.”

Starry Night resides in the MOMA in New York.

Wheat Field with Cypresses

Van Gogh not only painted from the asylum and it’s garden. When his health problems were under control he loved to get out and paint his beloved olive trees and cypresses. Emotionally tense as he was this could be an overwhelming experience. To art critic Aurier he wrote:

“In my case the emotions that take hold of me in the face of nature go as far as fainting, and then the result is a fortnight during which I am incapable of working. However, before leaving here, I am planning to return to the fray to attack the cypresses.”

Van Gogh’s first Wheat Field with Cypresses was painted in July 1889 and can be visited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New Yorkt. ,The other Wheat Field with Cypresses, painted in September 1889 is in National Gallery of Londen.
Van Gogh Irises from the Asylum GardenOur hand-painted reproduction of the Irises in interior.

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      25-04-2020 17:01     Comments ( 1 )
Comments (1)
 Sharon Dwyer Buzard -  03-09-2022

Seeing his paintings in person made me realize the precision of his brush strokes—precise technique, not the flailing of a wild man!