Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, November-December 1889
oil on canvas,
73 cm x 92 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
The olive groves around Saint-Rémy were a rewarding subject for Van Gogh. He was fascinated by the ever-changing colour of the olive trees and tried to find a good way of painting their irregular growth. His solution was to use swirling brushstrokes, bold outlines around the trunks and stylized blue shadows.
Van Gogh made his paintings of olive groves just after his friends Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard had painted a number of religious scenes. They created those works from their imaginations. Van Gogh disagreed with that approach. He felt that reality should always be the starting point: 'My ambition is truly limited to a few clods of earth, some sprouting wheat. An olive grove,' he wrote to Bernard.