Van Gogh and Me

On Tuesday, September 23, I began a new copy at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (NGA).  The painting bears the title “Green Wheat Fields, Auvers”, (1890).  A recent acquisition at the NGA, this masterpiece had not been in public exhibition since 1966 and probably not recognized by many as a van Gogh.  It is believed it was most likely painted during the spring/early summer of 1890, just weeks before the end of van Gogh’s life in Auvers-sur-Olse, France.  In this village just north of Paris, and as he did before in the countryside surrounding Arles and Saint-Remy, van Gogh painted what could be called “pure landscapes.”  Van Gogh eliminates the rural figures, stony walls, wooden carts, dramatic trees, and rustic buildings that populate so many of his landscapes and focuses instead on the windblown clouds and tall grasses.  Most of the composition consists of a field in a rich range of greens and blues, punctuated by outbursts of yellow flowers. The artist wrote of his return to northern France as a kind of homecoming, a peaceful restoration in which the vibrant, hot colors of the South were replaced by cool, gentle hues in green and blue.  Van Gogh’s energetic strokes describe the movement of grassy stalks in the breeze.  “Green Wheat Fields, Auvers” may be viewed at the NGA in gallery #83.  I keep it company on Tuesdays from about 10:00 to 4:00.  If you are visiting, stop by and say hello.