The Sower

The Sower

I’m putting the sketch aside just as it is, hardly daring to think about it. For such a long time it’s been my great desire to do a sower, but the desires I’ve had for a long time aren’t always achieved. So I’m almost afraid of them. And yet, after Millet and Lhermitte what remains to be done is... the sower, with colour and in a large format." Vincent To Theo. Arles, Thursday, 21 June 1888.
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Related images:  drawings – both after Vincent completes painting and is done re-working it – first sent to Emile Bernard July 16, second sent to Theo on August 8.  Others are millet and lhermitte sowers whom vincent admired and the sower himself is an homage to Millet.
“I’ve had a week of concentrated hard work in the wheatfields right out in the sun, the result was some studies of wheatfields, landscapes and — a sketch of a sower. In a ploughed field, a large field of clods of purple earth — rising towards the horizon — a sower in blue and white. On the horizon a field of short, ripe wheat. Above all that a yellow sky with a yellow sun.
You can sense from the mere nomenclature of the tonalities — that colour plays a very important role in this composition.  And the sketch as such — a no. 25 canvas — also worries me a lot, in the sense that I wonder whether I shouldn’t take it seriously and make a tremendous painting out of it. My God, how I’d love to do that. But I just wonder whether I’ll have the necessary power of execution.
I’m putting the sketch aside just as it is, hardly daring to think about it. For such a long time it’s been my great desire to do a sower, but the desires I’ve had for a long time aren’t always achieved. So I’m almost afraid of them. And yet, after Millet and Lhermitte what remains to be done is… the sower, with colour and in a large format.”  Vincent To Theo. Arles, Thursday, 21 June 1888.
“Here’s croquis of a sower. Large field with clods of ploughed earth, mostly downright violet. Field of ripe wheat in a yellow ochre tone with a little crimson.
The chrome yellow 1 sky almost as bright as the sun itself, which is chrome yellow 1 with a little white, while the rest of the sky is chrome yellow 1 and 2 mixed, very yellow, then.
The sower’s smock is blue, and his trousers white. Square no. 25 canvas. There are many repetitions of yellow in the earth, neutral tones, resulting from the mixing of violet with yellow, but I could hardly give a damn about the veracity of the colour. Better to make naive almanac pictures — old country almanacs, where hail, snow, rain, fine weather are represented in an utterly primitive way. The way Anquetin got his Harvest so well.
I don’t hide from you that I don’t detest the countryside — having been brought up there, snatches of memories from past times, yearnings for that infinite of which the Sower, the sheaf, are the symbols, still enchant me as before.
But when will I do the starry sky, then, that painting that’s always on my mind? Alas, alas, it’s just as our excellent pal Cyprien says, in ‘En ménage’ by J.K. Huysmans: the most beautiful paintings are those one dreams of while smoking a pipe in one’s bed, but which one doesn’t make. But it’s a matter of attacking them nevertheless, however incompetent one may feel vis-à-vis the ineffable perfections of nature’s glorious splendours.” Vincent To Emile Bernard. Arles, on or about Tuesday, 19 June 1888. lots more.

Painting, Oil on Canvas – 64 x 80.5 cm – Size 25 figure
Arles: June 26, 1888
Kröller-Müller Museum
Otterlo, The Netherlands, Europe
F: 422, JH: 1470

Where Vincent Was:
Arles

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