This National Gallery of Art produced pocket mirror features Vincent van Gogh’s Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (1890).
When the philanthropist Paul Mellon died in 1999, he left the National Gallery of Art in Washington the largest gift in its history: $75 million plus nearly 200 paintings, many of them masterpieces by artists like van Gogh, Manet, Cézanne, Monet and Renoir.
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is one of the most popular and universally recognized artists of all time. A remarkably prolific artist, he produced approximately 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings during a brief career spanning a mere decade. Following a succession of jobs, including a position as an art dealer, he moved in 1880 to the Borinage region of Belgium to work as a lay missionary among the miners. It was there that he decided to become an artist. Largely self-trained, in 1886 he moved to Paris, where he spent three months in the studio of the painter Fernand Cormon. He also made the acquaintance of a number of avant-garde artists including Paul Gauguin. Following two fruitful but emotionally draining years, he left Paris and moved to Arles, a town in southern France. Deeply inspired by the sun-drenched landscape and the picturesque character of the region and its inhabitants, Van Gogh developed what would become his signature style, marked by lush impasto, energetic brushwork, and vibrant color. In May 1889, the emotionally troubled artist voluntarily admitted himself as a patient at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in nearby Saint-Rémy, where he remained for a year. In May 1890, he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, where he stayed until he took his own life two months later. Green Wheat Fields, Auvers was painted during these final months in Auvers.
Measuring about two-and-a-half by three feet, this work is a pure landscape” in that there is no visible motif beyond the grassy field, road, and sky; there are no animals or figures, but instead lush flora whipped up by the wind. Two-thirds of the composition consists of the 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 of green and blue. Devoid of figures, the painting is consumed by a windswept field, rendered in dramatic rich greens and blues, with his sweeping brushwork and thick impasto. Van Gogh expresses the intense freshness of this slice of countryside.
Printed in the USA
Museum: National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)