Vincent creates this still life in oil on canvas, in May of 1890 just before he leaves the asylum at Saint Remy de Provence for the riverside hamlet of Auvers Sur Oise. He is excited to be leaving and is working on several canvases of vases of the flowers blooming around him in his last views of the hospital.
“My dear brother,
Thanks very much for your registered letter containing 150 francs, which arrived this morning. I also received canvases and colours from Tasset & Lhote (were those from Tanguy in the same consignment?), and I can’t thank you too much for them, for if I didn’t have my work I’d have sunk far deeper long since. At the moment the improvement is continuing, the whole horrible crisis has disappeared like a thunderstorm, and I’m working here with calm, unremitting ardour to give a last stroke of the brush. I’m working on a canvas of roses on bright green background…
…and two canvases of large bouquets of violet Irises, one lot against a pink background in which the effect is harmonious and soft through the combination of greens, pinks, violets.
On the contrary, the other violet bouquet (ranging up to pure carmine and Prussian blue) standing out against a striking lemon yellow background with other yellow tones in the vase and the base on which it rests is an effect of terribly disparate complementaries that reinforce each other by their opposition.
These canvases will take a good month to dry, but the man who works here
will take care of sending them after my departure. I’m planning to leave as soon as possible this week, and I’m starting to pack my trunk today.”
To Theo. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Sunday, 11 May 1890
Painting, Oil on Canvas
Saint-Rémy: May, 1890
National Gallery of Art
Washington D.C., United States of America, North America
F: 681, JH: 1976