Wheatfield behind St. Paul’s Hospital with Reaper – Green Grey Sky

Wheatfield behind St. Paul’s Hospital with Reaper – Green Grey Sky

"A reaper, the study is all yellow, terribly thickly impasted, but the subject was beautiful and simple. I then saw in this reaper – a vague figure struggling like a devil in the full heat of the day to reach the end of his toil – I then saw the image of death in it, in this sense that humanity would be the wheat being reaped. So if you like it’s the opposite of that Sower I tried before. But in this death nothing sad, it takes place in broad daylight with a sun that floods everything with a light of fine gold. Good, here I am again, however I’m not letting go, and I’m trying again on a new canvas. Ah, I could almost believe that I have a new period of clarity ahead of me." To Theo. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Thursday, 5 and Friday, 6 September 1889
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This painting is a repetition of the Wheatfield behind St. Paul’s Hospital with Reaper (F: 617) and was created after a 45 day bout with an episode, his longest to date – late June to early August of 1889 in St. Remy de Provence.  He used the June painting as his model and changed the mood with his color selections and mixes.
“All the time I have a preface in my head – (the one to Le conscrit) to one of his books in which he says that he’d been very ill and that in his illness, despite all his efforts, he had felt his affection for mankind withering away, and that long walks out in the open fields brought his feelings of love back to him. This inevitability of suffering and despair – anyway, here I am again, recovered for a period – I’m thankful for it.
I’m writing you this letter bit by bit in intervals when I’m tired of painting. Work is going quite well – I’m struggling with a canvas begun a few days before my indisposition. A reaper, the study is all yellow, terribly thickly impasted, but the subject was beautiful and simple. I then saw in this reaper – a vague figure struggling like a devil in the full heat of the day to reach the end of his toil – I then saw the image of death in it, in this sense that humanity would be the wheat being reaped. So if you like it’s the opposite of that Sower I tried before. But in this death nothing sad, it takes place in broad daylight with a sun that floods everything with a light of fine gold. Good, here I am again, however I’m not letting go, and I’m trying again on a new canvas. Ah, I could almost believe that I have a new period of clarity ahead of me.
And what should I do – continue here for these months, or move – I don’t know. The thing is, when the crises present themselves they aren’t amusing, and to risk having an attack like that with you or others is serious.
My dear brother – I’m still writing to you between bouts of work – I’m ploughing on like a man possessed, more than ever I have a pent-up fury for work, and I think that this will contribute to curing me.  Perhaps something will happen to me like the thing Eugene Delacroix speaks of – “I found painting when I had neither teeth nor breath left”, in this sense that my sad illness makes me work with a pent-up fury – very slowly – but from morning till night without respite – and – this is probably the secret – work for a long time and slowly. What do I know about it, but I think that I have one or two canvases on the go that aren’t too bad, first the reaper in the yellow wheat, and the portrait on a light background. This will be for the Vingtistes, if indeed they remember me when the time comes. Now, it would be absolutely the same to me, if not preferable, if they forget me.”

To Theo. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Thursday, 5 and Friday, 6 September 1889

Painting, Oil on Canvas – 74 x 92 cm Size 30 Figure
Saint-Rémy: September 6, 1889
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe
F: 618, JH: 1773

Where Vincent Was:
Saint Remy

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