Comfort in nature
Vincent was 36 when he plunged into painting olive groves in the South of France. He saw many olive trees around the asylum where he stayed for a year because of psychological complaints. The gnarly shapes of the trees reflected Vincent’s artistic and mental journey.
Van Gogh went through a mentally difficult time in the institution. Outdoors, surrounded by nature, he found comfort and strength. He wanted to express that feeling in his olive grove paintings.
‘The murmur of an olive grove has something very intimate, immensely old about it.’
(To Theo from Arles, April 1889)
Experimentation and variation
Van Gogh made fifteen paintings of olive groves, constantly experimenting with various approaches. Fascinated by the gnarly shapes of the olive trees and their ever-changing colours, he painted them over and over. He painted at different times of the day and used colours inspired by the season. Vincent himself considered his paintings of olive trees to number amongst the best he had made in the South of France.
This exhibition reunites Van Gogh’s paintings of olive groves and exhibits them together for the first time, thanks to unique loans from museums in Europe and the United States.