Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, March-April 1890
pencil, chalk, on paper,
23.5 cm x 32.0 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
During bouts of illness at the psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh frequently thought of returning to the Netherlands. He produced a series of paintings and drawings he called Reminiscences of the North. ‘And while my illness was at its worst, I still painted, among other things a reminiscence of Brabant, cottages with mossy roofs and beech hedges’, he wrote in April 1890.
This drawing shows Dutch-style houses with low hedges in the hilly landscape around Saint-Rémy. Van Gogh usually took reality as the starting point for his art, but here he merges that reality with memories of his native region.
He placed agricultural labourers – a frequent theme of his in the Netherlands – prominently in the foreground. He was not so impressed, however, by southern French peasants. ‘In our country one sees men, women, children, animals at work everywhere and at all times of the year, and here not a third of that, and in addition they’re not the honest workers of the north. They seem to work the land in an awkward, lax way, without energy’, he wrote to his brother Theo.