Vincent van Gogh’s sunny trees (during a rather dark period in his life)

Though these Olive Trees With Yellow Sky and Sun may not look very gloomy at all but it was painting at the time that Vincent van Gogh free-willingly admitted himself to an asylum in Arles. It is said that when Vincent van Gogh was asked why he wouldn’t do paintings depicting the suffering of Jesus Chist like most of his fellow artists he replied that he rather painted olive trees in their natural enviroment that the Garden of Getsemane (an olive garden where Jesus slept before his crucification). An expert on Vincent van Gogh’s works feels that the work nevertheless symbolises Jesus (and perhaps his own) suffering by a “harsh sun, barren ground, shadows, and the menacing appearance of leaf clusters.”

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Olive trees  was one of the motifs he painted several of times with slightly different lighting, colors and composition.

That same year Vincent painted Pollard Willows and Setting Sun (1888). The combination of the sun and willow trees sounds like the perfect image to express something that is bittersweet since they seem to contradict eachother.

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Even this painting Trunk of an Old Yew tree was painted in 1888.

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Pine trees at Sunset was painted a year later. There were alot of pine trees in the garden of the asylum and around the asylum but I dont know if he painted them there.  Van Gogh has been influenced by japonism because that was very much in fashion in art at the time and this painting seems to resemble that a bit.

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These are paintings of the Asylum Vincent van Gogh freewillingly admitted to in Arles. The first ones are the hallway and the window of van Goghs room in the aylum The others are the inner garden, the stonebench in the innergarden and the stone steps in the innergarden. He painted even many fields and trees in the surroundings of Arles. van Gogh loved the surrounding in Arles. He wrote to his brother Theo:

Because I have never had such a chance, nature here being so extraordinarily beautiful. Everywhere and all over the vault of heaven is a marvellous blue, and the sun sheds a radiance of pale sulphur, and it is soft and as lovely as the combination of heavenly blues and yellows in a Van der Meer of Delft. I cannot paint it as beautifully as that, but it absorbs me so much that I let myself go, never thinking of a single rule.

He also mentions another part of the garden at the asylum:

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But this side of the garden is also, for the same reason of chastity or morality, destitute of any flowering bushes such as the oleanders. There are ordinary plane trees, pines in stiff clumps, a weeping tree, and the green grass. But it is all so intimate. Manet has gardens like this.

Van Gogh seems to always have liked gardens and parks. Even in the first year that he came to France in 1887 he started to paint parks in Asnieres. This park is one of them:

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Van Gogh also painted a lane with poplars several times which is fun because then we can compare them with Monet’s poplars :).

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These are van Gogh’s and he made sure to have his sun quite central and to have a guy walk the path. The poplars all nicely lined up like pillars almost. Compare that to Monet who took the opposite angle and lined his poplars from left to right:

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You can see how dramatically different van Gogh’s and Monet’s poplars are even though they paint the same type of trees in an impressionistic style. Composition makes quite a difference as does color. (You can read more on Monet’s poplars and poppyfields here:

In 1890 he painted this mighty chestnut trees in blossom. It has the typical van Gogh brushwork in the leaves and the sky :).

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Apricot and peach trees in blossom.

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Yet a different style of painting trees by van Gogh. Here the horizon and especially the dark trees are central as they contrast so well to the bright yellow sky that is also reflected in the water.

Hope you enjoyed his paintings as much as I did! It was still snowing today even though its already may but the sunny paintings of Vincent van Gogh cheered me up :). The right one is also a painting of flowering chestnuts on an avenue at Arles. It just looks very inviting and sunny. Who wouldn’t wanna go for a strole which such weather and blossoming trees?

Posted in Sun

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