Monday, August 4, 2014

Van Gogh's olive groves & Christ in the Garden of Olives 1889


In May 1889, a troubled van Gogh voluntarily entered the asylum of St. Paul near Saint-Rémy in Provence. There he painted the wheat fields, olive groves, & cypress trees in the surrounding countryside.  The olive groves reminded him of the tragedy & triumph of the love of Christ.


Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background

Van Gogh wrote that he painted "in the groves, morning and evening during these clear, cold days, but in beautiful, bright sunshine."  He told his brother, Theo that he was drawn to paintings of Christ in the Garden of Olives, but found none adequate. "What I have done is a rather hard and coarse reality beside their abstractions, but it will have a rustic quality and will smell of the earth." He believed that "one can express anguish without making reference to the actual Gethsemane, and... there is no need to portray figures from the Sermon on the Mount in order to express a gentle and comforting feeling." He also commented: "I shall not paint a Christ in the Garden of Olives, but shall paint the olive harvest as one might see it today, and by giving the human figure its proper place in it, one might perhaps be reminded of it."


Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Couple Walking among Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape with Crescent Moon

Van Gogh wrote of the olive groves.  "The effect of daylight and the sky means there are endless subjects to be found in olive trees. For myself I look for the contrasting effects in the foliage, which changes with the tones of the sky. At times, when the tree bares its pale blossoms and big blue flies, emerald fruit beetles and cicadas in great numbers fly about, everything is immersed in pure blue. Then, as the bronzer foliage takes on more mature tones, the sky is radiant and streaked with green and orange, and then again, further into autumn, the leaves take on violet tones something of the color of a ripe fig, and this violet effect manifests itself most fully with the contrast of the large, whitening sun within its pale halo of light lemon. Sometimes, too, after a shower I've seen the whole sky pink and orange, which gave an exquisite value and coloring to the silvery gray-greens. And among all this were women, also pink, who were gathering the fruit."


Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Grove Pale Blue Sky

He wrote to his brother Theo that he was "struggling to catch (the olive trees). They are old silver, sometimes with more blue in them, sometimes greenish, bronzed, fading white above a soil which is yellow, pink, violet tinted orange... very difficult." He found that the "rustle of the olive grove has something very secret in it, and immensely old. It is too beautiful for us to dare to paint it or to be able to imagine it.


Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Grove



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Grove Bright Blue Sky



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Grove Bright Blue Sky



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Grove Orange Sky



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Grove



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Trees Against the Slope of a Hill



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Trees with Yellow Light and Sun



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) The Alpilles with Olive Trees in the Foreground



Vincent van Gogh (Dutch artist, 1853-1890) Olive Trees


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