Cows (after Jordaens)

Cows (after Jordaens)

"Among Bing’s reproductions I find the drawing of the blade of grass, and the carnations, and the Hokusai admirable. But whatever one may say, for me the more ordinary Japanese prints, coloured in flat tones, are admirable for the same reason as Rubens and Veronese. I know perfectly well that this isn’t primitive art. But the fact that the primitives are admirable isn’t in the very least a reason for me to say, as is becoming a habit, ‘when I go to the Louvre I can’t go beyond the primitives’. Supposing one were to say to a serious collector of Japanese art — to Levy himself — sir, I cannot help finding these 5-sous Japanese prints admirable — It’s more than likely that that person would be a bit shocked and would pity my ignorance and my bad taste. Exactly as in the past it was in bad taste to like Rubens, Jordaens, Veronese. " To Theo. Arles, Sunday, 23 or Monday, 24 September 1888
Details:
Painting Date
1st of July 1890
Detailed Image Links
Description:
Vincent does not mention this painting in any of his letters, nor does Theo.  It was probably composed in the last month of his life as he remembered and honored a painter whom he came to cherish during his studies in Antwerp, Jacob Jordaens.  At the time he paints the cows or Les Vaches, Vincent is living in Auvers Sur Oise with Dr. Gachet who has an etching of the Jordaens study of cows.  Vincent creates a small canvas in color based upon the black and white etching from Dr. Gachet.  Based upon the style of stroke used by Vincent in the work, it is dated early July in 1890 in what will be the last thirty days of Vincent’s short life.
The work is heavily impasto with a thick crosshatched sky covering the top half of the canvas in yellows, green and highlights of light blue.  The field the cows stand in is created with vertical green strokes in a thinner application than the strokes composing the sky.  The cows are earthy in curved brushstrokes of ochre, brown and orange with the lightest yellows of the sky repeated in their spots and undersides and then again repeated in the flowers dotting the field at left center.  Vincent also places a crow in the sky at top right in a very dark green mix.
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Over a year earlier,Vincent writes Theo from Arles in hopes he will be joined by Bernard or Gauguin or both in Provence and mentions Jordaens:
“Among Bing’s reproductions I find the drawing of the blade of grass, and the carnations, and the Hokusai admirable.  But whatever one may say, for me the more ordinary Japanese prints, coloured in flat tones, are admirable for the same reason as Rubens and Veronese. I know perfectly well that this isn’t primitive art. But the fact that the primitives are admirable isn’t in the very least a reason for me to say, as is becoming a habit, ‘when I go to the Louvre I can’t go beyond the primitives’.
Supposing one were to say to a serious collector of Japanese art — to Levy himself — sir, I cannot help finding these 5-sous Japanese prints admirable —
It’s more than likely that that person would be a bit shocked and would pity my ignorance and my bad taste.  Exactly as in the past it was in bad taste to like Rubens, Jordaens, Veronese
I believe that eventually I’ll stop feeling lonely in the house, and that on days of bad winter weather, for example, and in the long evenings, I’ll find an occupation that will absorb me completely.  A weaver, a basket-maker, often spends entire seasons alone, or almost alone, with his work as his only pastime.
But what makes those people stay where they are is precisely the feeling of the house, the reassuring, familiar look of things. Of course I’d like company, but if I don’t have it I won’t be unhappy on that account, and then, above all, the time will come when I’ll have someone. I have little doubt about that. Now in your home too, I believe that if one is willing to put people up one can find plenty among artists, for whom the matter of somewhere to stay is a very serious problem.
And for me, I believe that it’s my absolute duty to try to earn money with my work, and so I see my work quite clearly ahead of me.”

To Theo. Arles, Sunday, 23 or Monday, 24 September 1888

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“My dear Theo,
It’s already late, but I don’t want to put off reporting the safe receipt of your letter and 150 francs.
Before I forget — let me begin by replying to your recent question about the painting by Franck or Francken in St Andrew’s. Which I saw today. I think it a good painting — above all fine in sentiment — in sentiment it’s not very Flemish or Rubenesque. One thinks more of Murillo. The colour is warm, in a reddish spectrum as Jordaens sometimes is. The shadows in the flesh are very powerful, Rubens doesn’t have that and Jordaens often does, and in consequence there’s something mysterious in the painting that one can appreciate in that school.
I couldn’t get near enough to examine the technique from very close to, which would have been worthwhile. The head of Christ is less conventional than the Flemish painters usually conceive it. I imagine, though, that I can do it like that too, and the painting didn’t tell me anything new.”

To Theo. Antwerp, on or about Saturday, 2 January 1886

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“My dear Theo and dear Jo.
I’ve just received the letter in which you say that the child is ill; I’d very much like to come and see you, and what holds me back is the thought that I’d be even more powerless than you are in the given state of distress. But I can feel how very exhausting it must be, and would like to be able to lend a hand. By coming straightaway I fear I would increase the confusion. However, I share your anxieties with all my heart. It’s a real pity that at Mr Gachet’s the house is so cluttered with all sorts of things. Otherwise I think it would be a good plan to come and lodge here – at his house – with the little one, at least for a good month – I think that the country air has an enormous effect. In the street here there are kids born in Paris and really sickly – who however are well. Coming here to the inn would be possible too, it’s true. So that you aren’t too alone I could come myself to stay at your place for a week or fortnight.”

To Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Auvers-sur-Oise, Wednesday, 2 July 1890

 

7-1-1890 Cows (after Jordaens)

Painting, Oil on Canvas – 55 x 65 cm

Auvers-sur-Oise, France: July, 1890

Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lille Lille, France,

F: 822, JH: 2095

Where Vincent Was:
Auvers Sur Oise

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