Vincent van Gogh Final Paintings

Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) is emblematic of Vincent van Gogh's suffering in his final months in Auvers-sur-Oise.
Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) is emblematic of Vincent van Gogh's suffering in his final months in Auvers-sur-Oise.

Vincent van Gogh left the asylum in Saint-Rémy on May 17, 1890, and boarded a northbound train to travel to Auvers-sur-Oise, where he lived near the home of the physician Paul Gachet. An amateur artist and enthusiastic collector of contemporary painting, Gachet offered Vincent sympathetic companionship as well as supervisory care. The picturesque village also boasted a long artistic tradition; Honoré Daumier, Camille Corot, and Paul Cézanne had all worked there, and Charles-François Daubigny -- one of the Barbizon painters who had pioneered plein air painting -- had made it his home.

Living in a rented room in an inn near Gachet's residence, Vincent was grateful for the physician's encouragement and support. He began to paint immediately, setting up his easel in Gachet's garden. At first Vincent feared that he would have neither the strength nor the confidence to carry out his painting, but those feelings rapidly disappeared as he worked with his characteristic absorption and productivity. In the weeks from mid-May through the end of June, he painted more than 30 canvases, including scenes of the village, landscapes painted in the fields that surrounded the city, and close studies of ears of wheat and acacia branches.

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In particular van Gogh was obsessed with the wheat fields outside the town. In a letter to his mother and his sister Wil, he declared that he was completely absorbed in the subject; in the same letter he informed them that his calm mood was in perfect accord with the placid fields. But his description of his new paintings to his brother Theo struck a different tone. He wrote: "There are vast fields of wheat under troubled skies, and I did not need to go out of my way to express sadness and extreme loneliness." These words took on a new poignancy when, on July 27, Vincent shot himself in the wheat fields where he had set up his easel.

Follow the links below to learn more about some of Vincent van Gogh's final paintings.

Wheatfield with Crows: Wheatfield with Crows, by Vincent van Gogh, was one of the studies of the fields surrounding Auvers-sur-Oise, which fascinated van Gogh. Read about van Gogh's dramatic landscape Wheatfield with Crows.

Portrait of Dr. Gachet: Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet depicts van Gogh's new friend in Auvers-sur-Oise, the amateur artist Paul Gachet. Read about van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet.

Ears of Wheat: Ears of Wheat, by Vincent van Gogh, is notable for its lack of horizon or context. Read about van Gogh's Ears of Wheat, emblematic of van Gogh's approach to nature paintings.

Undergrowth with Two Figures: Undergrowth with Two Figures reflects van Gogh's belief in the importance of human companionship, something van Gogh rarely experienced in his own life. Learn about Undergrowth with Two Figures, van Gogh's poignant study of human relationships.

Almond Blossom: Almond Blossom, by Vincent van Gogh, reveals van Gogh's continuing interest in Japanese art. Read about Almond Blossom, painted in honor of the birth of van Gogh's nephew.

Butterflies and Poppies: Vincent van Gogh's Butterflies and Poppies is notable for its resemblance to textile art. Read about van Gogh's 1890 painting, Butterflies and Poppies.

Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity): Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity), by Vincent van Gogh, is one of the best known depictions of human sadness in all of art. Read about van Gogh's Old Man in Sorrow, which can be seen as a reflection of van Gogh's own melancholic state during his later years.

Irises: Vincent van Gogh's Irises represents the artist's lifelong interest in exploring the possibilities of color. Read about Irises, which van Gogh painted while still in the asylum of Saint-Rémy.

Road with Cypress and Star: Road with Cypress and Star, by Vincent van Gogh, found the artist returning to familiar subjects in nature. Learn about van Gogh's Road with Cypress and Star, which represents a village road outside of Auvers-sur-Oise.

Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital: Vincent van Gogh's Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital is one of the last paintings van Gogh completed while at the asylum in Saint-Rémy. Learn about van Gogh's famous post-Impressionist painting, Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital.

Landscape at Twilight: Vincent van Gogh's Landscape at Twilight contains his trademark use of the color yellow. Read about the 1890 painting, Landscape at Twilight, by Vincent van Gogh.

Dr. Gachet's Garden: Dr. Gachet's Garden, by Vincent van Gogh, was one of the first works van Gogh painted upon arriving in Auvers-sur-Oise. Learn about Dr. Gachet's Garden, which was set in the backyard of van Gogh's doctor and friend.

Houses at Auvers: Vincent van Gogh completed Houses at Auvers shortly after arriving in his new town. Learn about van Gogh's Houses at Auvers, which some critics see as a sign of van Gogh's increased, though short-lived, stability while in Auvers-sur-Oise.

Pink Roses: Vincent van Gogh's Pink Roses is reflective of his lifelong interest in still-life floral arrangements. Learn about the post-Impressionist painting, Pink Roses, by Vincent van Gogh.

Marguerite Gachet in the Garden: Vincent van Gogh's Marguerite Gachet in the Garden is one of nearly 80 paintings van Gogh completed in his brief time at Auvers-sur-Oise. Learn about Marguerite Gachet in the Garden, a portrait of the daughter of van Gogh's friend, Paul Gachet.

Daubigny's Garden: Vincent van Gogh's Daubigny's Garden is a portrayal of the garden of the plein air painter Charles-François Daubigny. Read about Van Gogh's 1890 painting, Daubigny's Garden.

The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise: The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise, by Vincent van Gogh, finds the artist at the height of his command of color. Read about The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise, which van Gogh himself believed was reflective of his maturing style.

Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background: Vincent van Gogh's Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background is unusual in that van Gogh eschewed the bright yellows of most of his paintings for more muted tones. Read about Vincent van Gogh's Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background.

Marguerite Gachet at the Piano: Marguerite Gachet at the Piano is one of several portraits van Gogh made of his friend Paul Gachet's daughter. Learn about Marguerite Gachet at the Piano, which shows evidence of Neo-Impressionist influence on van Gogh's work.

Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds: Vincent van Gogh's Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds takes on a greater poignancy considering it was completed shortly before van Gogh committed suicide. Read about van Gogh's famous landscape, Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds.

Blossoming Acacia Branches: Blossoming Acacia Branches is notable for its near-abstract quality. Learn about Blossoming Acacia Branches, by Vincent van Gogh, which some critics see as a fusion of multiple influences on the artist's work.

Farm near Auvers: Vincent van Gogh's Farm near Auvers is one of several works van Gogh painted of the countryside surrounding Auvers-sur-Oise. Learn about Farm Near Auvers, which some believe remained unfinished at the time of the great artist's death.

The first painting we'll look at portrays a wheat field, one of the enduring symbols of Vincent van Gogh's time in Auvers-sur-Oise.

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Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent van Gogh

Wheatfield with Crows 20x40-1/2 inches), hangs in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.
Wheatfield with Crows 20x40-1/2 inches), hangs in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.

Wheatfield with Crows, by Vincent van Gogh, was painted in 1890. With its dramatic palette, writhing brush strokes, and tall wheat stalks, Wheatfield with Crows resonates with an air of mesmerizing turbulence. The crows, described by van Gogh in a few deft strokes of black, circle low over the crops under an ominous sky that threatens the onset of a summer storm.

On the next page, we'll see a portrait Vincent van Gogh painted of one of his few friends.

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Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet (oil on canvas, 26-1/2x22 inches) is part of a private collection.
Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet (oil on canvas, 26-1/2x22 inches) is part of a private collection.

Vincent van Gogh painted his Portrait of Dr. Gachet in 1890. Vincent found an empathetic friend in the physician. Their conversations about painting gave Vincent the stimulating company he had lacked since Paul Gauguin's departure. When van Gogh painted Portrait of Dr. Gachet, he posed the physician in a gesture of melancholy contemplation, introspective with "the heartbroken expression of our time."

Next, we'll see Vincent van Gogh returning to the subject that fascinated him during his final years -- fields of wheat.

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Ears of Wheat by Vincent van Gogh

Ears of Wheat by Vincent van Gogh, is housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Ears of Wheat by Vincent van Gogh, is housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

In Vincent van Gogh's 1890 work, Ears of Wheat, van Gogh treated nature as a decorative motif -- much as he did in Butterflies and Poppies, which he painted before he left the asylum at Saint-Rémy. The growing stalks, ready to bear their grain, cover the canvas from one side to another. There is no ground line in Ears of Wheat, no horizon, only the sinuous and rhythmic forms of the undulating leaves and the upright stems. Vincent van Gogh's line has a pulsating energy, exhibiting the emotional agitation of his writhing cypresses and twisting olive trees.

Companionship was always important to Vincent -- and elusive. Next, we'll take a closer look at a painting with this as its subject.

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Undergrowth with Two Figures by Vincent van Gogh

Undergrowth with Two Figures 19-3/4x39-1/2 inches), belongs to the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Undergrowth with Two Figures 19-3/4x39-1/2 inches), belongs to the Cincinnati Art Museum.

In his 1890 painting titled Undergrowth with Two Figures, Vincent van Gogh revived one of his favorite motifs: two lovers strolling through a natural setting. Rather than a romantic image, Vincent always regarded a couple as an emblem of companionship; he believed lovers completed each other. But the setting of van Gogh's Undergrowth with Two Figures -- with no clear path in view -- undermines any aspect of consolation. The figures seem trapped amidst the staggered tree trunks.

Like many late-nineteenth-century painters, Japanese art exerted a strong influence on Vincent van Gogh's aesthetic. On the next page, you'll find an example of this.

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Almond Blossom by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Almond Blossom (oil on canvas, 29x36-1/4 inches) hangs in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.
Vincent van Gogh's Almond Blossom (oil on canvas, 29x36-1/4 inches) hangs in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.

Almond Blossom, by Vincent van Gogh, was painted in 1890 in honor of a special event in Vincent's life. On January 31, Vincent's brother Theo and his wife Johanna had a son, and they named him Vincent Willem. Vincent painted this branch of blossoming almond in celebration of the birth. The sinuous gray-green limbs and the shimmering white flowers delineate a decorative pattern against the bright blue sky, revealing Vincent van Gogh's enduring attachment to the Japanese aesthetic. The subject recalls Vincent's own hopefulness when he first arrived in Arles seeking a European counterpart to Japan.

Keep reading to see another example of the influence of Japanese art on Vincent van Gogh's work.

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Butterflies and Poppies by Vincent van Gogh

Butterflies and Poppies 13-1/2x10 inches), in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Butterflies and Poppies 13-1/2x10 inches), in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Butterflies and Poppies, the 1890 work by Vincent van Gogh, demonstrated that the lessons Vincent drew from his study of Japanese prints remained with him. The vivid red poppies and the pale yellow butterflies float on the surface of twisting dark stems and nodding buds, all against a yellow-gold background. Although composed of natural motifs, van Gogh's layering of pattern in Butterflies and Poppies suggests a decorative quality like that of a textile or a screen.

Van Gogh continued painting portraits as the year went on. Next, we'll see a particularly anguished example of this.

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Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) by Vincent van Gogh

Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) (oil on canvas, 32x25-1/2 inches), belongs to the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands.
Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) (oil on canvas, 32x25-1/2 inches), belongs to the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands.

Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) was painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1890. Early in the year, Vincent had written to his brother Theo, "Let me go quietly on with my work; if it is that of a madman, well, so much the worse, I can't help it." Vincent van Gogh only painted when his condition was stable, and he was well aware that his seizures could return at any time, but he resolved to continue his pursuit of consolation through his art. Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) reflects not just van Gogh's condition, but his sense that all humanity lived with uncertainty.

On the following page, you'll find a detailed look at one of the last paintings van Gogh completed before moving to Auvers-sur-Oise.

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Irises by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Irises (oil on canvas, 36-1/4x29 inches) is part of the collection at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.
Vincent van Gogh's Irises (oil on canvas, 36-1/4x29 inches) is part of the collection at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.

Vincent van Gogh's 1890 work titled Irises was part of a group of paintings of bouquets van Gogh finished in his last few weeks in the Saint-Rémy asylum. Van Gogh looked forward to moving to Auvers-sur-Oise, and the return to his favorite subject of flowers in Irises suggests his cautious optimism. The bouquet of blue irises, shadowed in violet in an ocher vase against a yellow background, reveals his continuing pursuit of what he called "the color question." For Vincent van Gogh, nature always offered the true revelation.

Vincent continued to turn to familiar themes after he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise. Continue on to the next page to learn more.

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Road with Cypress and Star by Vincent van Gogh

Road with Cypress and Star 36-1/4x28-3/4 inches), is housed in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands.
Road with Cypress and Star 36-1/4x28-3/4 inches), is housed in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands.

Road with Cypress and Star was completed by Vincent van Gogh in 1890, shortly after arriving in Auvers-sur-Oise. In mid-May, Vincent boarded a train alone to make his journey north from Saint-Rémy to Paris. Van Gogh spent four days with his brother's family and then took the short train trip to Auvers-sur-Oise. The small village was surrounded by wheat fields, and Vincent readily found his subject for Road with Cypress and Star in familiar motifs such as the twisting cypress trees and the stunning illumination of the broad country sky.

Before leaving Saint-Rémy, however, Vincent van Gogh completed several paintings. Next, we'll see one of his final paintings from the asylum.

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Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital by Vincent van Gogh

Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital by Vincent van Gogh (oil on canvas, 25-1/2x32 inches) can be found in London's National Gallery.
Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital by Vincent van Gogh (oil on canvas, 25-1/2x32 inches) can be found in London's National Gallery.

Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital was one of Vincent's last paintings from the asylum in Saint-Rémy. The canvas echoed the subjects of those van Gogh had painted when he first arrived: flowers and the neglected gardens that surrounded the hospital. In Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital, he depicted the scrubby bushes in swift lines of green, gold, tan, and black, with the sinuous trunks of trees rising in the distance. The thick impasto records Vincent's rapid strokes, as if van Gogh was compelled to finish his work and embark on the journey to his next home.

After moving to Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent van Gogh continued his expressive use of color, particularly yellow. Keep reading to learn more about this.

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Landscape at Twilight by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Landscape at Twilight (oil on canvas, 19-3/4x39-1/4 inches) resides in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Vincent van Gogh's Landscape at Twilight (oil on canvas, 19-3/4x39-1/4 inches) resides in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Vincent van Gogh completed his 1890 painting titled Landscape at Twilight after arriving in Auvers-sur-Oise. Vincent found a wide range of subjects to paint surrounding the village of Auvers-sur-Oise and daily took his paints and palette out to the fields. Van Gogh worked with renewed energy in strong, bright colors and a free descriptive stroke. The chateau in Landscape at Twilight is barely seen deep in the distance. The vibrant orange and yellow hues, contrasting with the dark greens muted with shadow, reveal that the temporal effect of sunset -- and its effect on color -- inspired van Gogh's interpretation.

Van Gogh also found a great many subjects for his work through his new friend Dr. Paul Gachet. Keep going to learn about a painting Vincent made of the doctor's garden.

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Dr. Gachet's Garden by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Dr. Gachet's Garden (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x20-1/4 inches) can be seen in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Vincent van Gogh's Dr. Gachet's Garden (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x20-1/4 inches) can be seen in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting titled Dr. Gachet's Garden depicts the garden behind the house of his new friend Dr. Paul Gachet. The garden was among the first subjects Vincent painted in Auvers-sur-Oise, and his colors were vivid: red, yellow, and blue. Vincent van Gogh used bright clear greens to depict the abundant foliage. The spiky leaves in the foreground of Dr. Gachet's Garden and the twisting branches of the trees behind them are reminiscent of the natural forms he painted repeatedly while in the hospital of Saint-Rémy: the flame-like iris and the sinuous cypress.

At first, it seemed that the move to Auvers-sur-Oise improved Van Gogh's physical and emotional health. The next painting speaks to that improvement.

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Houses at Auvers by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Houses at Auvers (oil on canvas, 28-1/4x23-3/4 inches) hangs in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
Vincent van Gogh's Houses at Auvers (oil on canvas, 28-1/4x23-3/4 inches) hangs in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

Houses at Auvers was painted in 1890, shortly after Vincent van Gogh arrived in Auvers-sur-Oise and he seemed to be on the mend. Indeed, Vincent's first letters to his brother Theo from Auvers-sur-Oise were cautiously optimistic. His health was good, and he found his room comfortable. The village had a picturesque appeal; even the new homes were "radiant and sunny and covered with flowers." Unlike the writhing rhythms that characterized his landscape work at Saint-Rémy, Vincent van Gogh's first paintings at Auvers, such as Houses at Auvers, exhibited a new stability, seen in the strongly interlocked strokes of heavy pigment.

While in Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent van Gogh continued his exploration of the possibilities of color. Keep reading to see how van Gogh did this.

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Pink Roses by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Pink Roses (oil on canvas, 12-1/2x16 inches) is housed in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
Vincent van Gogh's Pink Roses (oil on canvas, 12-1/2x16 inches) is housed in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

Flowers remained among Vincent van Gogh's favorite subjects -- as in his 1890 work Pink Roses -- and van Gogh continued to paint gardens and still-life floral arrangements. This bouquet of roses is purely decorative, painted for the striking effect of the pale, almost translucent, white petals with their pink blush against a pure bright green background.

Next, we'll see Vincent van Gogh returning to the Gachet family for the subject of his work.

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Marguerite Gachet in the Garden by Vincent van Gogh

Marguerite Gachet in the Garden 18x21-3/4 inches), in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Marguerite Gachet in the Garden 18x21-3/4 inches), in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting titled Marguerite Gachet in the Garden was one of nearly 80 works van Gogh completed during his two-and-a-half-month residence in Auvers-sur-Oise. Painting with unprecedented speed, Vincent van Gogh adopted a looser brush stroke and a lighter palette, reflecting the newfound freedom of living on his own. Marguerite Gachet in the Garden is painted as rapidly as any of Vincent's Parisian experiments with Impressionist technique.

Auvers-sur-Oise appealed to Vincent not only because of the Gachets, but also because there was a strong artistic tradition in the town, going back to the plein air painter Charles-François Daubigny. On the next page, we'll see Vincent van Gogh honoring Daubigny's legacy.

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Daubigny's Garden by Vincent van Gogh

Daubigny's Garden by Vincent van Gogh, can be found at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Daubigny's Garden by Vincent van Gogh, can be found at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Vincent van Gogh painted Daubigny's Garden in 1890 in honor of Charles-François Daubigny, who was an early practitioner of plein air painting. Daubigny settled in Auvers-sur-Oise and lived there until his death nearly two decades before Vincent van Gogh's arrival. Daubigny's widow still lived in the house when Vincent painted Daubigny's Garden in delicate tones of pink, green, and violet. Vincent van Gogh's great fidelity to natural tones pays tribute to Daubigny's own adherence to nature.

Van Gogh's furious output in Auvers-sur-Oise included many of the buildings in the village. On the next page, we'll see van Gogh's depiction of the church.

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The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise (oil on canvas, 37x29-1/4 inches) hangs in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Vincent van Gogh's The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise (oil on canvas, 37x29-1/4 inches) hangs in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Vincent van Gogh finished The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise in 1890. Vincent described his painting in a letter to his sister Wil, stressing the interplay of color. The gray-violets of the building in The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise stand out against the deep blue of the sky. Vincent van Gogh notes that the foreground with its green plants and bright flowers, bordered by the sandy road, is illuminated by "the pink glow of sunshine." Van Gogh's concern for color fueled his art, and he asserted that since his time in Nuenen, his handling had become "more expressive, more sumptuous."

Keep reading to learn about another landscape inspired by Auver-sur-Oise.

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Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background by Vincent van Gogh

Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background by Vincent van Gogh, is housed in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background by Vincent van Gogh, is housed in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

In his 1890 painting titled Landscape with Carriage and Train, Vincent van Gogh selected a high point of view for his vista of the fields adjacent to the village, with the road intersecting the field beds and the mountains in the distance. This sweeping and all-encompassing view recalls the approach van Gogh took to paint The Harvest, but the palette in Landscape with Carriage and Train in the Background is cool and muted, as opposed to the hot yellows Vincent used to express the restorative warmth of the Provençal sun.

Van Gogh painted several portraits of Dr. Gachet's daughter, Marguerite, while in Auvers-sur-Oise. Next, we'll look more closely at one of these.

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Marguerite Gachet at the Piano by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Marguerite Gachet at the Piano (oil on canvas, 40-1/2x19-3/4 inches) is housed at the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel.
Vincent van Gogh's Marguerite Gachet at the Piano (oil on canvas, 40-1/2x19-3/4 inches) is housed at the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel.

Marguerite Gachet at the Piano was painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1890. Dr. Gachet reciprocated Vincent's open friendship, welcoming van Gogh into his home for lively discussions and allowing his daughter to pose for several portraits. In Marguerite Gachet at the Piano, Vincent van Gogh employs a combination of brush strokes -- long free strokes on the piano, Neo-Impressionist dabs on the wall, thick repetitive strokes on her gown -- to create a decorative surface, as if sculpted in impasto.

Despite the seeming return to good health, all was not well with Vincent van Gogh. This emerged in his art, as in the next painting you'll see.

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Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds (oil on canvas, 19-3/4x39-1/2 inches) hangs in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.
Vincent van Gogh's Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds (oil on canvas, 19-3/4x39-1/2 inches) hangs in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.

Vincent van Gogh completed Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds in the summer of 1890. In July, Vincent wrote to his mother and his sister Wil that he was painting a vast plain of wheat "as boundless as the sea." Van Gogh related the colors as a harmonious range of blue, white, pink, and violet, with the green and yellow wheat shining under a clear sky. Vincent van Gogh's own emotional state matched this tranquil subject: "I am in a mood of almost too much calmness, in the mood to paint this."

In Vincent's last days, we find the artist returning to his earliest influences, Impressionism and Japanese prints. Read on to learn how these manifested in one of his final paintings.

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Blossoming Acacia Branches by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Blossoming Acacia Branches (oil on canvas, 12-3/4x9-1/2 inches) is housed in The National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm.
Vincent van Gogh's Blossoming Acacia Branches (oil on canvas, 12-3/4x9-1/2 inches) is housed in The National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm.

In Vincent van Gogh's 1890 work titled Blossoming Acacia Branches, the light feathery stroke that delineates the shimmering pale yellow blossoms of the acacia branches recalls Vincent's experiments with Impressionism during his years in Paris. Straight strokes describe the trunk and branches, and the jagged pattern in which Vincent van Gogh laid on the pigment in Blossoming Acacia Branches suggests the enduring result of the copies he made of Japanese prints. Van Gogh has focused in so closely on this branch that it appears almost abstract, an ensemble of color, line, and rhythm.

Tragically, Vincent van Gogh took his own life in July of 1890. On the next page, we'll see the unfinished painting he left behind.

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Farm near Auvers by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh worked on Farm near Auvers in the summer of 1890, shortly before his death.

To paint the cottages nestled into the hills around Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent selected a high point of view, recalling his enduring interest in the landscapes in Japanese prints. The thin application of paint in Farm near Auvers suggests that this work may have been left unfinished. But the strong, calligraphic strokes reflect the force of expression Vincent van Gogh achieved in his late brush work, without the characteristic heavy impasto.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American painting, including Publication International, Ltd.'s, Monet and Impressionism. Other titles include Sunflowers, Monet's Garden in Art, Van Gogh: Fields and Flowers, and Mary Cassatt: Reflections of Women's Lives. Ms. Mancoff is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.