The Red Vineyard

The Red Vineyard

"I myself have also finished a canvas of a vineyard, all purple and yellow with little blue and violet figures and a yellow sun. I think you’ll be able to place this canvas next to Monticelli's landscapes."
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Painting Date
9th of November 1888
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Vincent painted the Red Vineyard two weeks after Gauguin’s arrival in Arles on October 23, 1888.  Gauguin encourages Vincent to paint less of that which he sees and more of what he remembers or imagines.  While their partnership and dialogue about art after impressionism is robust in the first few weeks of living in the yellow house, things disintegrate in their second month of living and working together.  Vincent will later blame his mental breakdown and the failure of his studio of the south on this journey into the symbolic. He writes Theo and contemporary artist Emile Bernard of the dangers he sees down this artistic path in the months that follow.

Vincent had painted the same vineyard outside of Arles about a month before, when the grape leaves were still green and the harvest had not yet begun. Some of the spires and taller buildings of Arles can be seen on the blue horizon to the right of the radiating sun in Vincent’s portrayal of the Red Vineyard.  Anna Boch will purchase this painting after viewing it at an exhibition in Brussels in early 1890.

Anna was the sister of Vincent’s friend Eugene Boch, a poet whom he met while painting in Provence in 1888 and 1889. The Red Vineyard is reputed to be the only painting Vincent sold while alive, though he exchanged several works with other prominent artists throughout his short career.  Anna Boch was one of the more accomplished modern female painters of her time.  She ascribed to more of a divisionist (Seurat, Signac) approach to color theory and paint application.  She was also one of the original founders of the Les Vingt in Belgium, one of the more prestigious salons where new art was selected from canvases rejected by Paris’  more conservative salon.

The Related Images are a Von Rysselberghe portrait of Anna Boch at her easel, and a canvas painted by Vincent of her brother, Eugene. Also related is a view of the same vineyard painted by Vincent a month and a half earlier and a canvas created by Paul Gauguin of the same vineyard entitled the Grape Harvest at Arles.  The current day street view shows the vineyard no longer exists but the distant view of Arles is unmistakable.

Both Vincent and Theo liked the canvas, which was linked to an evening walk a few nights prior, about which Vincent wrote his brother.  Inspired by the colors of the sunset of the previous evening, Vincent lay the colors over the vineyard he had painted before.  The composition is similar but Vincent raises the horizon in The Red Vineyard and changes the color combinations as the harvest is in full swing.

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The seventh exhibition of Les Vingt (The Twenty) was held in Brussels from 18 January to 23 February 1890. Works by the 19 members of the society were accompanied by the work of 18 other artists: Eugène Boch, Paul Cézanne, Alexandre-Louis-Marie Charpentier, Albert Dubois-Pillet, Louis Hayet, Xavier Mellery, George Minne, Lucien Pissarro, Odilon Redon, Auguste Renoir, Louis Oscar Roty, Giovanni Segantini, Paul Signac, Alfred Sisley, Charles Storm van ‘s Gravesande, William Thornley, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vincent van Gogh.

Vincent exhibited six works:

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

The Ivy

Orchard in Blossom

Wheatfield.  Rising Sun

The Red Vineyard

 

 

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In Autumn of 1888, Vincent writes to Theo of his newfound commitment to looking internally for his canvases and only using reality as a loose guide for color selection:

 

“I repeat, I’m indifferent as regards Tanguy’s place, provided Tanguy is fully aware that he has no right over my canvases, none.  So, my position is clear at least, which isn’t a matter of absolute indifference to me. With a little more work I’ll have sufficient not to need to exhibit at all any more, that’s what I’m aiming at.

I myself have also finished a canvas of a vineyard, all purple and yellow with little blue and violet figures and a yellow sun.  I think you’ll be able to place this canvas next to Monticelli’s landscapes.

I’m going to set myself to work often from memory, and the canvases done from memory are always less awkward and have a more artistic look than the studies from nature, especially when I’m working in mistral conditions.”

To Theo. Arles, Saturday, 10 November 1888.

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Having just received the painting in Vincent’s latest shipment of works from Arles, Theo comments:

“The red vineyard is very beautiful, I’ve hung it in one of our rooms.”

Theo to Vincent. Paris, Sunday, 16 June 1889

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Vincent writes his mother from his room in the asylum at Saint Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence:

 

“But what are beautiful in the south are the vineyards, where they’re on the flat land or the hillsides. I’ve seen it, and come to that sent Theo a painting of it, where a vineyard is all purple, crimson and yellow and green and violet like the Virginia creeper in Holland. I like to see a vineyard as much as a wheatfield. Then the hills here, full of thyme and other aromatic plants, are very beautiful, and because of the clarity of the air one can see from the heights so much further than at home.”

To Anna van Gogh-Carbentus. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, between about Monday, 8 July and about Friday, 12 July 1889

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Vincent writes his mother again in October:

“I certainly agree with you that it’s a good deal better for Theo like this than before, and just hope everything goes well with Jo’s confinement, then they’ll be set up for quite a while. It’s always good to experience how a human being comes into the world, and that leads many characters to more peace and truth.

The countryside here is very beautiful in the autumn, and the yellow leaves. I’m just sorry there aren’t more vineyards here, though I did go and paint one a few hours away. What happens is a large field turns entirely purple and red, like the Virginia creeper at home, and next to it a square of yellow and a little further on a patch that’s still green.  All that beneath a sky of magnificent blue, and lilac rocks in the distance. Last year I had a better opportunity to paint that than now.

I would have liked to include something like that with what I’m sending you, but I’ll have to owe it to you till another year…”

 

To Anna van Gogh-Carbentus. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Monday, 21 October 1889

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Vincent writes his sister in October of 1889:

 

“But anyway, everything’s completed as regards my painting, and I assure you that it isn’t the worst I’ve done. I’d also like you to have the red vineyard that Theo has of mine, and if ever I come to Paris again I’ll copy it for you.”

 

To Willemien van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Monday, 21 October 1889

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The invitation to exhibit at Les Vingt 1890:

15 November 1889

“Sir

The Association of Les Vingt, founded in 1883 with the goal of organizing an international exhibition in Brussels each year, comprising the works of its members and of twenty Belgian and foreign artists chosen from among those most sympathetic to the artistic principles it represents, requests that you do it the honour of participating in its seventh annual Salon by sending one or more of your works. The exhibition will open in the second half of January, and will last one month. The invited painters will each have four metres of rail at their disposal.

The catalogue of the last Salon, which you will receive at the same time as this invitation, will enable you to appreciate the character of the exhibitions of Les Vingt, which were instituted with an exclusively artistic goal and have taken first place in Belgium in the evolution of the Arts.

The association requests you, Sir, to kindly let us know as soon as possible if you accept its invitation, as the number of these is strictly limited, and to inform us before 15 December of the notes and comments you wish to see featured in the catalogue.  The costs of return transport are borne by the treasury of Les Vingt.  A further notice will inform you of the latest date for dispatch, as well as providing information relating to the sending of works.

Please accept the expression of our feelings of artistic brotherhood and very high consideration.

 

For Les Vingt

The Secretary

 

Octave Maus

Barrister accredited to the Court of Appeal.”

 

Octave Maus to Vincent van Gogh. Brussels, Friday, 15 November 1889

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Vincent writing to accept the invitation and include Red Vineyard in the selected works for display:

“I accept with pleasure your invitation to exhibit with the Vingtistes. Here is the list of canvases I intend for you:

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

The Ivy

Orchard in Blossom

Wheatfield.  Rising Sun

The Red Vineyard

 

(All these canvases are no. 30 canvases.) I am perhaps exceeding the 4 metres of room but as I believe that the 6 together, thus chosen, will make a rather varied colour effect, perhaps you will find a way of placing them.

Please accept the expression of my entire fellow-feeling for the Vingtistes.”

 

Vincent van Gogh

To Octave Maus. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Wednesday, 20 November 1889

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Theo writes Vincent before the exhibition:

“Lately Tanguy has been exhibiting a lot of your canvases, he told me that he hopes to sell the Bench with the ivy. It’s a fine choice you’ve made for Brussels. I’ve ordered frames. For the Sunflowers I’m leaving the little wooden edge that’s around it, and a white frame around that.

 

For the others, white or natural wood frames. You don’t tell me if you want to exhibit drawings. When Maus was here he liked them very much and asked above all for some to be sent. We could perhaps send several of them in a frame.

 

You often used to say that a book should be published about Monticelli. Well, I’ve seen about twenty very fine lithographs after him done by someone called Lauzet. There will also be text, the artist is to come and see our paintings to see if there are any he wants to reproduce. It will be especially good for the English and the Scottish.

 

The lithographs are printed in different tones, and in terms of the process they somewhat resemble etchings on stone, like Marvy made back then; the man who did them is a real artist. That friend of Bernard’s called Aurier also came to my place, the one who came to rue Lepic once. He’s very interested in what you’re doing and showed me a little journal he ran in which he talked about Tanguy’s shop, and in which he also mentions your paintings.

 

Here we are in the full throes of winter and there’s snow on the roofs. How’s the climate where you are?

 

I’m writing to Mr Peyron to tell him that you’ll probably be obliged to work in a room, and that in that case will he please let you make a fire, the cost of which he can add to my account.”

 

Theo to Vincent. Paris, Sunday, 8 December 1889

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Vincent writes his mother after the showing at Les Vingt:

 

“Now I must confess that later, when my surprise had abated somewhat, I felt very heartened by it at times; yesterday, what’s more, Theo informed me that they’d sold one of my paintings in Brussels for 400 francs.

 

In comparison with other prices, including the Dutch ones, this isn’t much, but that’s why I try to be productive in order to be able to keep working at reasonable prices. And if we have to try to earn our living with our hands, I have an awful lot of expenses to make up for.”

 

To Anna van Gogh-Carbentus. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Wednesday, 19 February 1890

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Theo writes Vincent about the money received for the painting:

“Next Sunday Bernard and Aurier are to come and see your latest canvases. Bernard has been a bit ill but is feeling better. Enclosed with this you’ll find a letter from Aurier. He’s to come shortly to see the Gauguins and do an article on him.

 

I’ve received the money for your painting from Brussels, and Maus writes to me: ‘When you have an opportunity please tell your brother that I was very happy that he participated in the Salon of Les Vingt where, in the melée of discussions, he found lively artistic sympathies’. Do you want me to send you the money? I’m holding it for you for whenever you want it.

 

I hope, my dear brother, that you can soon give us more satisfactory news of your health. You’d feel happier if you saw your little godson. Try to find out from Dr Peyron if he sees no danger in your coming to Paris when you’ve recovered from this crisis. Jo sends you her warm regards, and joins with me in sending best wishes for your speedy recovery.

 

Good handshake.

Theo”

 

Theo to Vincent. Paris, Wednesday, 19 March 1890

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Painting, Oil on Canvas – 75 x 93 Size 30 Figure

Arles: November 9, 1888

Pushkin Museum

Moscow, Russia, Europe

F: 495, JH: 1626

Where Vincent Was:
Arles

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