Vincent Van Gogh Masterpieces – Lesser Known Works

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Vincent Van Gogh, in the course of only 10 short years, produced a vast and incredible body of work. Succeeding Rembrandt as the most recognizable Dutch artist, Van Gogh’s work, along with Cezanne and Gauguin, is universally recognized for extending the Impressionist work of the era and crafting the Post-Impressionist movement along with Expressionism. During his lifetime, Van Gogh broke down much of his work into themed series and groupings of paintings, including the Sunflowers, Wheat Fields and Self-Portraits for which he is so well known. However there were numerous other works, such as Van Gogh’s Yellow Chair, that have entranced scholars for decades.

Paintings by Van Gogh in Nuenen – 1883-1885

Van Gogh’s early work shows little of the impressionism that would later inform much of his work. However, in paintings such as Cottage with Decrepit Barn and Stooping Woman, completed in July of 1885 in Nuenen, Van Gogh explored his early predilection towards painting the same work many times to capture different aspects of the same subject. Numerous other paintings such as Cottage with Trees and Cottage with Peasant Woman Digging depict similar scenes under different circumstances.

During his two years in Nuenen, Van Gogh completed 192 paintings, many of them of peasants and similar settings. These works all culminated in his first unmitigated masterpiece, The Potato Eaters. Before reaching Paris in 1886, Van Gogh spent a small portion of time in Antwerp studying at the Art Academy. It is here he painted works such as the Skeleton with Cigarette while studying the human form.

Paintings by Van Gogh in Paris – 1886-1888

In the next two years, spent in Paris, Van Gogh completed another 221 paintings, while exploring the Impressionist style of the time and altering his own methods substantially. Paintings such as the Fritillaries by Van Gogh depicted still life images of simple flowers that Van Gogh would continue studying for years, engendering his interest in foliage and the depiction of life cycles. Other images, painted later during his stay in Paris included Van Gogh’s The Yellow Books and Yellow House, precursors to his latter life obsession with yellow in his paintings. After his earlier stay in Antwerp, he continued to make repeated studies of the human body including his own in the self-portraits. Other paintings such as the little girls continued this intrigue with human form.

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Paintings by Van Gogh in Arles – February 1888 – May 1889

When Van Gogh left Paris in 1888 for Arles, he made a decided change to his style. Van Gogh’s paintings in Provence focus greatly on nature and the world around him and explored the Post-Impressionist styles that would eventually define his life’s work. The field at Arles proved to be a major source of inspiration for Van Gogh, prompting numerous paintings from his window. The Sower, painted repeatedly in the fall of 1888 is a return to Van Gogh’s early life depictions of farmers and workers, yet his shift in style is clearly evident. Van Gogh’s still lifes from this period are equally famous including his three legged chair picture.

The three legged stool picture Van Gogh painted, as simple as it might appear is often the most studied of his works, both because of its simplicity and the underlying complexity that some assume is assuredly there. With The Garden of Arles, Van Gogh took to the depiction of natural wonders in varying seasons, a similar technique to his Sunflower and Wheat Field paintings. Peach Blossom in the Crau, another famous painting from a series of paintings depicting flowering in the spring is often studied for its unique use of color.

Paintings by Van Gogh in the Asylum, Saint-Remy – May 1889-May 1890

When Van Gogh had himself committed to the asylum in Saint-Remy in 1889, he did not cease painting. Rather, he kept a studio in the asylum and painted prolifically. While Starry Night and the Wheat Fields outside of his window are considered his most famous masterpieces from this period, the unique style of swirls and patterns that marked his stay in Saint Remy was put to use in numerous other works.

In depicting The Hills behind the Wall, Van Gogh repeatedly painted the same scene from his window in the asylum of the hills and farmland that rose beyond the wall surrounding the asylum. Similarly, Van Gogh painted Ravine from memory. Other paintings from this time period include Van Gogh’s Midday Rest, La Promenade and depictions of Almond Blossoms in the gardens.

After leaving the Saint Remy Asylum in May, Van Gogh traveled to Auvers-sur-Oise and to the ministrations of Dr. Gachet. The Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Van Gogh is one of the most expensive Van Gogh paintings ever sold and the dual versions of the painting have been studied extensively by scholars trying to discern the mental state of Van Gogh during those final summer months.

 

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