Snow-covered Field with a Harrow (after Millet), 1890

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Oil on Canvas, 72 x 92 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
    (Vincent van Gogh Stichting)
  • F 632

A snow-covered field with farm implements lies under a gray sky wheeling with crows. Van Gogh derived his subject from an etching by Alfred Delaunay, made after a work by the French painter Jean-François Millet. Millet’s original painting, which contained no figures, was an exception in his oeuvre. Van Gogh adopted the composition of the monochrome print, adding his own distinctive color and characteristic brushstroke. His landscape became even more wintry and desolate than Millet’s… It is in fact more a variation on the Millet than a copy.

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Van Gogh painted this work in January 1890, during his stay at the asylum in Saint-Rémy. In this period he made many such paintings after earlier masters, including Daumier, Delacroix and Rembrandt. The Pietà after Delacroix was the first in this series of ‘variations.’ Van Gogh was able to continue work on these pictureseven when illness made it impossible for him to paint outside.
By far the greater number of these variations were inspired by his great favorite Millet, the painter of peasant life whose work he had also copied earlier in his career. In this way he created a series of ten small paintings depicting rural activities; seven of these are now at the Van Gogh Museum. They are executed principally in golden yellow and bright blue – the colors Van Gogh most associated with rural life.

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