Arts Everyday Living: Escaping Social Distance Via Art–Starry Night & Other Heavenly Skies



Would you consider Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, the most famous painting today?  Ironically, Van Gogh (1853-1890), who often wrote descriptive passages of his works of art to his brother Theo and other correspondents, barely mentioned his now iconic masterpiece. Other artists have also explored the theme of nocturnal skies, particularly Norwegian masters Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and Harald Sohlberg (1869-1935).  Additional painters included in this blog are Jozef Chelmonski (1849-1914), Poland; Tom Thomson (1877-1917), Canada; and Utagawa Hiroshige, Japan (1797-1858).

So enjoy another Art Circle blog and I always welcome any of your ideas and comments.



Jozef Chelmonski (1849-1914), Night,, 1888, oil on canvas, National Museum, Krakow, Poland


Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,

Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie


The myriad stars reflected in the water are so peaceful and serene and the colors are so soothing.

Kay Oshel

The painting is so calm.  When I go to Chincoteague when the ambient light is less, this is close to what I see.  But he has captured the serenity of it so well…

Daena Kluegel



Tom Thomson (1877-1917), Northern Lights, 1917, oil on plywood, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


The starry sky is the truest friend in life, when you first become acquainted; it is ever there, it gives ever peace, ever reminds you that your restlessness, your doubt, your pains are passing trivialities.

Fridtjof Nansen (Polar explorer)


I have never seen the Northern Lights but this painting moved me to imagine a cold arctic night with those Lights. The textures he produces are important to this feeling.

Daena Kluegel



Harald Sohlberg (1869-1935), Winter Night in the Mountains, 1914, oil on canvas, National Gallery, Oslo, Norway


Overhead the night was a superb arch of clear frost, sifted with stars.

Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop


There is only one star to be seen shining between mountain peaks.  He used icy blues and muted greens that produced (for me) a chilling effect while viewing his work.

Daena Kluegel


Harald Sohlberg, Winter’s Night in the Mountains, III, 1918-1924, oil on canvas, Collection Unknown




Edvard Munch, Starry Night (1863-1944), 1893, oil on canvas, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA


When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


I feel like the sky is pressing down on me and almost suffocating me.

Kay Oshel





Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night on the Rhone, 1888, oil on canvas, Musee D’Orsay, Paris, France


The sky is bluish-green, the water is royal blue, the earth is mauve.  The city is blue and violet, the gaslight is yellow, and the reflections are reddish gold and taper off to bronze green.  On the bluish-green field of the sky, the Great Bear, twinkling in green and pink, its modest brilliance contrasting with the strong gold of the gaslight.  Two colorful figures of lovers in the foreground.

Vincent van Gogh letter to brother Theo, September 29, 1888


Who else would have painted the Great Bear in green and pink!

Kay Oshel

Wow! The yellow starlight in the blue heavens that is reflected in the deep blue water.  All of this seems to overwhelm the two lovers.

Daena Kluegel



Utagawa Hiroshige, Rendezvous Pine Near the Asakusa River and the Ommaya Bank of the Sumida River, c. 1856-1858, woodblock print


If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore….

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays


The yellow and white bands on the horizon seem such a perfect divide between the vast sky and human environment below.

Kay Oshel

I love this work (wood block print).  It feels cheery and those stars….also cheery.  Just looking at it lifts my spirits.

Daena Kluegel



Vincent van Gogh, Terrace of a Cafe at Night, 1888, oil on canvas, Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands


…Now there’s a painting of night without black.  With nothing but beautiful blue, violet, and green, and in these surroundings the lighted square is colored pale sulphur, lemon green.

Vincent van Gogh, letter sister Will, September 9-16, 1888


I think I like this painting as it feels like a perfect painting for our Covid outdoor dining scene.  The stars are also painted as very bright. We seem to see more in our night sky these Covid days perhaps due to less pollution since we are NOT going ANYWHERE.  Am I just perseverating on our present Covid moment?

Daena Kluegel



Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York


But when will I do a starry sky, then, that painting that’s always on my mind.

Vincent van Gogh, Letter to Emile Bernard, June 19, 1888

I now have a landscape with olive trees and also a new study of a starry sky.

Vincent van Gogh, Letter brother Theo, June 18, 1889


The skies are magical, uplifting, almost spiritual…

Kay Oshel

Nothing beats this painting for me! There’s movement and light in the sky that feels prescient and so dramatically opposed to the sleeping village below the night sky. I think I may feel the most rapport with this Van Gogh, although I love most of his works very much.

Daena Kluegel


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