Wheat Field with Crows

Wheat Field with Crows

"...once back here I set to work again – the brush however almost falling from my hands and – knowing clearly what I wanted I’ve painted another three large canvases since then. They’re immense stretches of wheatfields under turbulent skies, and I made a point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness. You’ll see this soon, I hope – for I hope to bring them to you in Paris as soon as possible, since I’d almost believe that these canvases will tell you what I can’t say in words, what I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside." To Theo and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Auvers-sur-Oise, on or about Thursday, 10 July 1890
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Details:
Painting Date
1st of July 1890
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Also referred to as “Crows over the Wheat Field”, this painting has often been said to be Vincent’s last canvas.  While it was painted in the final weeks before his death, the letters he wrote from Auvers cast doubt on this supposition.  Does the painting show a view of forthcoming maladies or does it show a meandering path through the stalks?  Are the crows flying toward the observer and completing the urgency of the converging lines overwhelming us – or are the birds flying away to brighter skies and a drier day?

Vincent used powerful complimentary color combinations for Wheat field with Crows:  the blue sky contrasts with the yellow-orange of the wheat, while the red of the path is intensified by the green bands of grass. The brushwork creates a powerful sense of dynamism, which is further heightened by the crows taking flight.  Deep cobalt blues to near black take the top edge of the canvas with the exception of the center where canvas was left blank (for a securing mechanism on a windy day?)

“This monumental landscape was long considered the last work Van Gogh painted. The menacing, stormy sky, the crows and a path apparently leading nowhere have all been read as hints of his suicide. In reality, he completed several more paintings after this one. What’s more, Van Gogh was seeking to express something positive and comforting in this work: the overpowering gloom emphasizes the grandeur and magnificence of the landscape.”

 

Van Gogh Museum – Wheat Field with Crows

 

“Dear brother and sister,

Jo’s letter was really like a gospel for me, a deliverance from anguish which I was caused by the rather difficult and laborious hours for us all that I shared with you.1 It’s no small thing when all together we feel the daily bread in danger, no small thing when for other causes than that we also feel our existence to be fragile.2
Once back here3 I too still felt very saddened, and had continued to feel the storm that threatens you also weighing upon me. What can be done – you see I usually try to be quite good-humoured, but my life, too, is attacked at the very root, my step also is faltering. I feared – not completely – but a little nonetheless – that I was a danger to you, living at your expense – but Jo’s letter clearly proves to me that  1v:2 you really feel that for my part I am working and suffering like you.

There – once back here I set to work again – the brush however almost falling from my hands and – knowing clearly what I wanted I’ve painted another three large canvases since then. They’re immense stretches of wheatfields under turbulent skies, and I made a point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness.4 You’ll see this soon, I hope – for I hope to bring them to you in Paris as soon as possible, since I’d almost believe that these canvases will tell you what I can’t say in words, what I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside.”

To Theo and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Auvers-sur-Oise, on or about Thursday, 10 July 1890

 

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

 

Painting, Oil on Canvas – 50.5 x 100.5 cm Size 40 en longueur
Auvers-sur-Oise:
July 10, 1890
Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe
F: 779, JH: 2117

Where Vincent Was:
Auvers Sur Oise

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