Art Wednesday

When I saw "Starry Night over the Rhone" (1880) by Vincent Van Gogh on loan at the National Gallery of Australia I was amazed at its beauty.  I had seen it in books and found it rather flat and not very interesting, but in real life it comes alive - with its brilliant blues and yellows. The painting captures the reflections of the gas lighting in Arles across the glimmering blue water of the Rhône. In the foreground, two lovers stroll by the banks of the river.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
Dutch Impressionist painter

Although Vincent van Gogh eventually became the most recognizable name in nineteenth century art, he didn't always seem destined for life as a painter. Indeed, it wasn't until the age of 27 when, after brief sojourns into different professions -- including those of art dealer, teacher, and lay minister -- van Gogh devoted himself to painting.

In a short period of ten years Van Gogh made approximately 900 paintings.  Vincent only sold one painting (Red Vine) during his lifetime and only became famous after his death.  His brother Theo was his biggest and most faithful fan, to whom Vincent wrote over 800 letters to.  Theo died 6 months after Vincent.  Theo's wife collected Vincent’s paintings and letters after his death and dedicated herself to getting his work the recognition it deserved. 

Vincent was an unstable and volatile and well known as the tortured artist who cut off part of his own ear. The events leading up to this tragic accident were related to his friendship with Paul Gauguin. Vincent persuaded Gauguin to leave Brittany and join him in Arles. At first their relationship was amicable but after about two months the artists started to argue. On one fated occasion van Gogh, in a terrible rage threatened Gauguin with a razor. Van Gogh calmed down later in the day and was filled with horror and remorse for the possible consequences of such an argument. As a result of this, and his instability, the tortured artist cut off part of his own ear. He voluntarily entered the asylum of Saint-Remy suffering with depression. Vincent Van Gogh sadly committed suicide at the age of 37 years old.

Van Gogh always felt that he never successed in anything he did, if only he knew how popular his works would become.  His painting “Irises” sold in 1987 for $53.9 million (in today's terms $102.7million).  He most certainly "made it" in the art world.
"Red Vine" - the only painting Van Gogh sold
Sunflowers (1888)
I have also had the honour of seeing this painting as well but it didn't have the same magic or impact as the one about did.   This is one of several versions of sunflowers that van Gogh painted.  This version of 15 flowers was painted in Arles, in 1888.  It now hangs in the National Gallery in London
"Starry Night"
Van Gogh created his most famous work The Starry Night while staying in an asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France.
"Fishing in Spring"
"Flower Beds"
This painting best resembles the Impressionist style of art, which he moves away from later in his career where he uses bold strokes of vivid colour (as seen in the one below).
"Vincents Room"
There are five versions of this painting, 3 oil on canvas and 2 sketches. Vincent was so pleased with this particular painting he wrote to his brother with the details "The walls are pale violet. The floor is of red tiles. The wood of the bed and chairs is the yellow of fresh butter, the sheets and pillows very light greenish-citron. The coverlet scarlet. The window green. The toilet table orange, the basin blue.The doors lilac. And that is all--there is nothing in this room with its closed shutters. The broad lines of the furniture again must express inviolable rest. Portraits on the walls, and a mirror and a towel and some clothes. The frame--as there is no white in the picture--will be white. This by way of revenge for the enforced rest I was obliged to take. "
"Woman Sewing"  watercolour, 1881
"The potato eaters" lithograph, 1885
Van Gogh completed a group of works that portrayed the poor, this is one of those.



  1. One of my very favourite artists! Thank you, Jo! I adore Stary Night. Where I live, without other night lights, the stars can seem enormous & just like this. ☺

  2. Jo,
    I love Van Gogh's work, and I haven't seen the woman sewing portrait before. Thank you for posting these lovely pieces of art. Blessings to you!

  3. I've never really looked at many Van Gogh's art works much before because the few I had seen were not my favourite style of art. And so I never really realised he did some of the more realistic artwork like the last few pieces you posted up here. I like them, they're quite lovely! Thanks for enlightening me!!! :)

  4. Oh yes, I adore Vincent's incredible works of art. xxx

  5. Thanks for this interesting post on Vincent Van Gogh. For some reason I'm really drawn to "Fishing in Spring".

  6. Jo - these works of art are truly lovely. You know - some of them I had never seen before. I love how you dedicate Wednesdays to art - I always learn from you~~



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