Vincent van Gogh was convinced of the link between colour and music. In Charles Blanc’s book Les artistes de mon temps, he read: ‘colour can be learnt, just like music’. While living in Nuenen, he even took piano lessons in order to better understand the gradation of colour tones, and to harmonise them. In fact, harmony is the key word here.
Later, on 18 September 1888, he wrote about it in a letter to Theo:
‘But I’m again the way I was in Nuenen, when I made a vain attempt to learn music — even then — so strongly did I feel the connections there are between our colour and Wagner’s music.’
Van Gogh would often make comparisons with music in his letters:
‘…this bloody mistral is a real nuisance for doing brushstrokes that hold together and intertwine well, with feeling, like a piece of music played with emotion.’
To Theo, from Arles, c. 29 September 1888