Still Life with Drawing Board and Onions

Still Life with Drawing Board and Onions

"Physically I am well, the wound is closing very well and the great loss of blood is balancing out, since I’m eating and digesting well. The most fearsome thing is the insomnia, and the doctor didn’t talk to me about it, nor have I spoken to him about it yet. But I’m fighting it myself. I’m fighting this insomnia with a very, very strong dose of camphor in my pillow and my mattress, and I recommend it to you if you ever have trouble sleeping. I was very fearful of sleeping alone in the house, and I felt anxious that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but it went very well and I dare to believe that it won’t recur." To Theo. Arles, Wednesday, 9 January 1889
Details:
Painting Date
8th of January 1889
Detailed Image Link
Description:

This is done shortly after leaving the hospital and Vincent is suffering from insomnia as he recovers from his episode and physically from the loss of blood.

“Physically I am well, the wound is closing very well and the great loss of blood is balancing out, since I’m eating and digesting well. The most fearsome thing is the insomnia, and the doctor didn’t talk to me about it, nor have I spoken to him about it yet. But I’m fighting it myself.  I’m fighting this insomnia with a very, very strong dose of camphor in my pillow and my mattress, and I recommend it to you if you ever have trouble sleeping. I was very fearful of sleeping alone in the house, and I felt anxious that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but it went very well and I dare to believe that it won’t recur.”

11. This remedy came from the physician François Vincent Raspail, who believed that illnesses were caused by parasites. He prescribed camphor as a general cure for all ailments, writing that ‘camphor has sleep-inducing properties’ (le camphre a la propriété de ramener le sommeil); to have this effect, however, the medicine must be ingested. The method described by Van Gogh was recommended by Raspail as a means of curbing masturbation. See Manuel annuaire de la santé. Paris 1886, pp. 89-92, 373.
Raspail’s books were especially popular among labourers. His best-known work was Manuel annuaire de la santé, which had been published every year since 1845. Van Gogh depicted such an Annuaire in the still life he made shortly after leaving the hospital: Still life with onions and Annuaire de la santé (F 604 / JH 1656 [2763]).

To Theo. Arles, Wednesday, 9 January 1889

Painting, Oil on Canvas – 50 x 64 cm Size 15 Paysage
Arles: January 8, 1889
Kröller-Müller Museum
Otterlo, The Netherlands, Europe
F: 604, JH: 1656

Where Vincent Was:
Arles

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