Vincent van Gogh Paintings from Saint-Remy

Irises was one of the paintings Vincent van Gogh  depicting the grounds of the asylum in Saint-Rémy. See more pictures of van Gogh's paintings.

Unable to live securely on his own in Arles, Vincent voluntarily entered Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, a psychiatric asylum in nearby Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. When Vincent entered the asylum on May 8, 1889, his condition was diagnosed as a form of epilepsy. As long as he remained stable, the doctors allowed Vincent to paint, though for the first weeks of his residence, he was confined to the hospital for supervision.

By mid-June, he was permitted to paint in the fields surrounding Saint-Rémy in the company of an attendant. In his letters to his brother Theo, van Gogh was eager for news of the art world in Paris. Isolated from the energetic exchange of ideas that he had experienced in Paris, as well as when living with Gauguin, Vincent reflected upon artists and writers who articulated a deep understanding of current human conditions. It was Vincent's hope that his own art could do the same.

In July, while painting in the fields on the outskirts of Saint-Rémy, Vincent van Gogh suffered a severe seizure that left him debilitated for more than five weeks. He complained to Theo that he felt "like a fool going and asking doctors permission to make pictures," but he fully grasped the seriousness of his condition, realizing that "a more violent attack may forever destroy my power to paint." With a lack of models, he returned to the practice of copying reproductions; in them, he revived the spirit of consolation and solace he had found before in nature.

Follow the links below to learn more about some of the most famous works Vincent van Gogh painted during his time in Saint-Rémy.

The Starry Night: Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night is one of the art world's best-known paintings. Learn about The Starry Night, which Vincent van Gogh painted from a hospital window.

Cypresses: Cypresses, by Vincent van Gogh, depicts a grove of trees just outside the asylum where van Gogh stayed in 1889. Read about van Gogh's Cypresses, which reminded Vincent of his famous sunflowers.

Pietà (After Delacroix): Pieta (After Delacroix), by Vincent van Gogh, reflects the importance of the artist Eugène Delacroix's theories on van Gogh's work. Read about van Gogh's Pieta.

Self-Portrait: This 1889 Self-Portrait is one of the last of the many self-depictions van Gogh painted. Read about van Gogh's Self-Portrait, noted by critics for its intense emotion.

Ward of Arles Hospital: Ward of Arles Hospital, by Vincent van Gogh, was completed while van Gogh was hospitalized in 1889. Learn about Ward of Arles Hospital.

Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles: Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles, by Vincent van Gogh, is a superior example of the artist's unique blend of lightness and intensity. Learn about van Gogh's Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles, which was completed toward the end of his stay in Arles.

Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom: Vincent van Gogh's Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom reflects the artist's love for the tranquil setting of Provence. Learn about Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom.

Lilacs: Lilacs, by Vincent van Gogh, was completed in 1889, after van Gogh checked himself into an asylum for treatment of his seizures. Learn about van Gogh's Lilacs, painted on the grounds of the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole mental asylum.

Irises: Vincent van Gogh's Irises demonstrates van Gogh's trademark vivid colors and daring brush strokes. Read about Irises, another painting depicting the grounds of the mental asylum in Saint-Rémy.

Self-Portrait: Vincent van Gogh's 1889 Self-Portrait was painted after a series of damaging seizures. Read about van Gogh's Self-Portrait, which depicts the artist's haggard condition.

A Corridor in the Asylum: A Corridor in the Asylum, by Vincent van Gogh, is compared by many critics to his earlier painting titled Ward in the Arles Hospital. Find out about van Gogh's A Corridor in the Asylum, which expresses van Gogh's increasing frustration with his confinement.

The Bedroom: Vincent van Gogh's The Bedroom is a recreation of the painting by the same name that van Gogh painted while living in the Yellow House. Read about The Bedroom, which shows the artist's nostalgia for his life in Arles.

The Olive Trees: The Olive Trees, by Vincent van Gogh, depicts an olive grove just outside the grounds of the asylum in Saint-Rémy. Read about Vincent van Gogh's The Olive Trees, reminiscent of some of his best paintings from Arles.

The Large Plane Trees: The Large Plane Trees, by Vincent van Gogh, is an excellent example of van Gogh's personal style of "yellow painting." Read about Vincent van Gogh's The Large Plane Trees.

Olive Grove: Vincent van Gogh's Olive Grove is one of several studies of the olive trees of Saint-Rémy that van Gogh would complete. Read about Olive Grove by Vincent van Gogh.

Noon: Rest from Work (after Millet): Noon: Rest from Work (After Millet) was painted by Vincent van Gogh after a series of epileptic attacks in early 1890. Read about Noon: Rest from Work (After Millet), by Vincent van Gogh, which exhibits the influence of the artist Jean-Francois Millet on Vincent van Gogh.

Prisoners Exercising (After Doré): Vincent van Gogh's Prisoners Exercising (After Doré) is a copy of a print by Gustave Doré. Read about van Gogh's Prisoners Exercising (After Doré), which some critics claim reflects van Gogh's discontent with his life in Saint-Rémy.

On the next page, we'll look at one of Vincent van Gogh's most recognizable paintings.

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The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night (oil on canvas, 29x36-1/4 inches) hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night (oil on canvas, 29x36-1/4 inches) hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Vincent van Gogh painted The Starry Night while in the Saint-Rémy asylum in 1889. Vincent's room in the Saint-Rémy asylum looked out on the eastern sky. He painted The Starry Night as a panoramic vista spreading out into an almost infinite distance under a tumultuous sky ablaze with stars.

The writhing branches of the cypress in the foreground are carved, like the stars, in thick impasto, and the tree vibrates with the rhythms of nature's divinity. The orange-yellow crescent moon makes a stark contrast to the vivid blue firmament, recalling Vincent van Gogh's belief that arbitrary color allowed him to express himself "more forcefully."

Eventually van Gogh was allowed to leave the confines of the asylum to paint the surrounding areas. Next, we'll look at one of those paintings.

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Cypresses by Vincent van Gogh

Cypresses by Vincent van Gogh (oil on canvas, 36-3/4x29-1/4 inches) hangs in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Cypresses by Vincent van Gogh (oil on canvas, 36-3/4x29-1/4 inches) hangs in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Vincent van Gogh painted Cypresses in 1889, within a month of his arrival at the mental asylum, when Vincent gained permission to paint in the open air. He ventured just beyond the grounds of the hospital into the groves of cypress trees that he could see from his window. Van Gogh observed them closely, explaining to his brother Theo that the trees were constantly on his mind and that as a motif they reminded him of sunflowers, "because it astonishes me that they have not been done as I see them."

Besides nature, van Gogh also drew inspiration from old works of art, which he had previously produced in his studio. Keep reading to learn more about one of these copies.

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Pieta (After Delacroix) by Vincent van Gogh

Pietà (After Delacroix) 16-1/2x13-1/2 inches), found at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Pietà (After Delacroix) 16-1/2x13-1/2 inches), found at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Vincent van Gogh's Pietà (After Delacroix) was painted in 1889, shortly after his return to work, when Vincent resumed his old habit of making oil copies of black and white reproductions of the works of art he admired. Eugène Delacroix's color theory had shaped Vincent van Gogh's ideas about color from his earliest reflections on painting. The resonant contrast of blue and yellow in Pietà -- broken only by Christ's red hair and beard -- heightens the emotional power as well as his personal connection to the art of Delacroix.

Van Gogh was known for his many self-portraits. Next, we'll look more closely at one of the last of such works.

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Self-Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait (oil on canvas, 25-1/2x21-1/4 inches) is housed in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait (oil on canvas, 25-1/2x21-1/4 inches) is housed in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Vincent van Gogh's 1889 Self-Portrait is one of at least 40 self-portraits van Gogh painted over the course of his career. To render his own image, Vincent faced the challenge of confronting his own identity and emotional condition, and he subjected himself to uncompromising scrutiny. In one of his last attempts to express his own image through his art, Vincent van Gogh employs a vigorous brush stroke and a nearly monochrome palette for his jacket as well as the background, creating in this Self-Portrait an emotionally charged atmosphere from which he warily gazes back at the viewer.

Next, we'll examine a work by van Gogh depicting the hospital where he lived toward the end of his stay in Arles.

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Ward of Arles Hospital by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Ward of Arles Hospital (oil on canvas, 28-1/4x35-1/4 inches) is part of the Collection Oskar Reinhart 'Am Römerholz,' Winterthur, Switzerland.
Vincent van Gogh's Ward of Arles Hospital (oil on canvas, 28-1/4x35-1/4 inches) is part of the Collection Oskar Reinhart 'Am Römerholz,' Winterthur, Switzerland.

The 1889 painting Ward of Arles Hospital, by Vincent van Gogh, portrays the institution where Vincent spent his last months in Arles. When his health permitted, van Gogh left the premises to paint in the fields. He also painted the scenes outside his window. Vincent van Gogh felt more secure living with medical supervision, but in his painting, Ward of Arles Hospital, the exaggerated length of the corridor and the nervous contours that delineate the figures of the patients express the emotional weight of his isolation and confinement.

Van Gogh didn't brood on such depressing subjects entirely, however. Keep reading to learn more about a lighter work that he completed around this same time.

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Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles by Vincent van Gogh

Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles (oil on canvas, 28-1/4x36-1/4 inches) can be found at Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich.
Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles (oil on canvas, 28-1/4x36-1/4 inches) can be found at Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich.

In his 1889 work titled Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles, Vincent van Gogh returned to the subject that gave him inspiration after his arrival in Arles. The lighter, silvery character of his blue and green palette in Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles conveyed the sense of nature's fresh renewal, and his deft even stroke, which evokes a gentle breeze stirring the grasses, conveys the tranquility and promise Vincent van Gogh associated with the spring season. But the twisted trunk of the tree recalls the intensity Vincent infused into the motif of The Sower the previous year.

On the next page you'll find another painting in which Vincent van Gogh works with this lighter palette.

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Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom (oil on canvas, 25-3/4x32 inches) hangs in London's Courtauld Institute Gallery.
Vincent van Gogh's Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom (oil on canvas, 25-3/4x32 inches) hangs in London's Courtauld Institute Gallery.

Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom was painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1889 and captures what drew van Gogh to southern France. Vincent moved to Provence for the restorative warmth of the sun and picturesque tranquility of the rural location. The blue sky, verdant fields, and blooming fruit trees in Le Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom sparked a vitality in his art that freed van Gogh to experiment with a lighter palette and varied brush strokes. In nuanced tones and with a delicate touch, Vincent van Gogh painted the fields a last time, asserting that his physical and emotional trials were justified by his artistic development.

Vincent van Gogh was famous for his depictions of sunflowers, but he loved flowers of all types. Next, we'll look at Vincent's treatment of lilacs.

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Lilacs by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Lilacs (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x 36-1/4 inches) can be seen at Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
Vincent van Gogh's Lilacs (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x 36-1/4 inches) can be seen at Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

Vincent van Gogh's Lilacs was completed in 1889, shortly after Vincent voluntarily entered the mental asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. While his condition was assessed, van Gogh considered the potential subjects available to him in confinement. These included an unkempt garden and the view out his window, but he longed to take his easel to the countryside. The leafy lilac trees, just coming into their pale blooms, gave Vincent van Gogh a subject to paint on the grounds of the asylum.

Next, we'll see another painting that portrayed the hospital grounds.

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Irises by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Irises (oil on canvas, 28x 36-1/2 inches) is housed at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Vincent van Gogh's Irises (oil on canvas, 28x 36-1/2 inches) is housed at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Vincent van Gogh pained Irises in 1889, during his first month in the asylum in Saint-Rémy. Under the care of a sympathetic staff, Vincent's fears abated. His doctors recognized his need to work, and by the end of May, Vincent found it necessary to ask his brother Theo to send him more canvas and paint. He painted the irises that grew on the hospital grounds, and he assured Theo, "When you receive the canvases I have done in the garden, you will see I am not too melancholy here."

Despite Vincent's assurances to his brother, a self-portrait he completed at this time indicates he was suffering more than he indicated. On the next page, view this self-portrait.

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Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, is part of the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, is part of the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Vincent van Gogh's 1889 Self-Portrait reflects the violence of the seizures Vincent suffered in the summer, which left him debilitated. To prevent him from ingesting more turpentine, his doctors confiscated his painting materials. When Vincent recovered sufficient calm and strength, he was able to return to painting. Van Gogh's first self-portrait of this time shows him haggard, and he described his appearance as "lean and pale, a poor devil," but he positioned himself to hide his maimed ear.

Vincent van Gogh found material for his art in the asylum in Saint-Rémy, as he did at the hospital in Arles. Keep reading to learn about his depiction of the asylum.

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A Corridor in the Asylum by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's A Corridor in the Asylum (black chalk and gouache on pink ingres paper, 25-5/8x19-5/16 inches) belongs to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of a 1948 bequest from Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.
Vincent van Gogh's A Corridor in the Asylum (black chalk and gouache on pink ingres paper, 25-5/8x19-5/16 inches) belongs to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of a 1948 bequest from Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

In his 1889 work, A Corridor in the Asylum, van Gogh painted the corridors of the asylum, just as he had painted the men's ward at the hospital in Arles. Here, only a single figure can be seen, passing from the seemingly endless hall into one of the anonymous rooms that stretch along the length of the corridor. The long, narrow hall in A Corridor in the Asylum, penetrating into the deep distance, conveys the sense of futility Vincent van Gogh experienced in confinement. Van Gogh's letters also reveal an increasing discontent, and he began to propose the possibility of leaving the asylum and living with supervision.

Next, we'll see another painting that echoes Vincent van Gogh's time at the Yellow House.

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The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's The Bedroom (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x36-1/4 inches) hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Vincent van Gogh's The Bedroom (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x36-1/4 inches) hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Vincent van Gogh's The Bedroom, painted in 1889, will seem familiar to fans of the artist's work from the Yellow House. Just as Vincent revived his motif of sunflowers as he recovered from his self-mutilation, he returned to the images of the Yellow House as he recuperated in Saint-Rémy. He reprised the painting of his bedroom, intensifying the colors and sharpening the details of the pictures on the wall. When van Gogh's thoughts strayed back to his life in Arles, he was filled with wistful regret, telling his brother, "I still think that Gauguin and I will perhaps work together again."

Eventually, Vincent van Gogh was allowed to leave the confines of the asylum. Keep reading to see a painting he made of the surrounding area.

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The Olive Trees by Vincent van Gogh

The Olive Trees by Vincent van Gogh, is housed in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The Olive Trees by Vincent van Gogh, is housed in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Vincent van Gogh's The Olive Trees was painted in 1889, when Vincent was finally allowed to leave the premises of the asylum to paint. Always believing that work in nature restored and consoled him, Vincent painted the twisting trunks of The Olive Trees with dense green foliage under a yellow sun in a yellow sky, recalling the landscapes van Gogh had painted the previous year in Arles.

While residing in the asylum, Vincent van Gogh continued his exploration of color -- particularly the color yellow. Read on to learn about a painting that uses this hue to great effect.

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The Large Plane Trees by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's The Large Plane Trees (oil on canvas, 29x36-1/4 inches) can be seen at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Vincent van Gogh's The Large Plane Trees (oil on canvas, 29x36-1/4 inches) can be seen at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Vincent van Gogh painted The Large Plane Trees in 1889. Here, Vincent restricted his palette to shades of yellow, recalling the chromatic experiments of the sunflowers. Hints of green on the ground and in the tree trunks cool the tonality of The Large Plane Trees, while the branches in the right distance flame brightly in autumnal orange. Vincent van Gogh's color modifications and his expressive contours of the twisting branches indicate the overwhelming energy of nature, in contrast to the static blocks of masonry that line the road.

Keep reading to learn about yet another study of the local foliage completed by Vincent van Gogh.

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Olive Grove by Vincent van Gogh

Olive Grove by Vincent van Gogh, can be seen in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.
Olive Grove by Vincent van Gogh, can be seen in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.

Olive Grove, by Vincent van Gogh, reflected Vincent's long-held interest in the local olive trees. When Vincent first arrived in Saint-Rémy, he wrote to Theo that the olive groves reminded him of the heightened colors he had sought when he moved to the south. The leaves appeared like "old silver...turning to green against the blue," and the "orange-colored plowed earth" suggested nature's fecundity. After more than six months in confinement, Vincent van Gogh's vision remained; in Olive Grove only the sky has changed to a cooler greenish blue.

Vincent suffered several attacks of epilepsy over the next several months. On the next page, you'll find a detailed examination of a painting van Gogh made during his recuperation.

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Noon: Rest from Work (After Millet) by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Noon: Rest from Work (After Millet) (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x35-3/4 inches) is housed in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Vincent van Gogh's Noon: Rest from Work (After Millet) (oil on canvas, 28-3/4x35-3/4 inches) is housed in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Vincent van Gogh completed Noon: Rest from Work (After Millet) after several bouts with epilepsy. Vincent suffered a severe attack in December, but his recovery was rapid. Two more attacks followed in January and February requiring an extended convalescence. When van Gogh was able to paint, he again turned to the works of Millet to find consolation. The clear pure hues of blue and yellow in Noon: Rest from Work (After Millet), as well as the thick application of paint, reveal no diminishment of van Gogh's power or of his identification with the honesty of agricultural toil.

On the next page, we'll see another example of Vincent van Gogh's reliance on older masterworks to find inspiration in his own art.

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Prisoners Exercising (After Dore) by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Prisoners Exercising (After Doré (oil on canvas, 31-1/2x25-1/4 inches) hangs in Moscow's Pushkin Museum of Fine Art.
Vincent van Gogh's Prisoners Exercising (After Doré (oil on canvas, 31-1/2x25-1/4 inches) hangs in Moscow's Pushkin Museum of Fine Art.

Prisoners Exercising (After Doré) was painted in 1890 by Vincent van Gogh, toward the end of his time in the asylum. As Vincent regained his strength, his desire to leave Saint-Rémy intensified.

He made an oil copy of Gustave Doré's print of life in prison, portraying the inmates marching slowly in an endless circle, exercising their stiff limbs. The nearly monochromatic palette and the sense of confinement van Gogh created by the splayed walls in Prisoners Exercising (After Doré) heighten the monotony of the image of futile activity, reflecting Vincent's own frustration and discontent.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

[b]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.