I was enjoying the cherry blossoms at the tidal basin today. I wonder how Vincent van Gogh would have captured their exquisite and at times dream-like beauty. Although he created his own celebration of spring 135 years ago!
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPRING IN ART: THE FLOWERING ORCHARDS
Between late March and late April of 1888, Vincent van Gogh created some 15 paintings (with 8 in existence today) of apricot, peach, pear, plum, and other types of orchards just outside Arles in the South of France. In letters to his brother Theo, and sister Wilhelmina, Vincent provides us with a record of his progress.
So enjoy your walk with Vincent into spring, through a gallery of his visions and his words.
And just google the listed works of art (for copyright reasons we cannot post the paintings).
I have just finished a group of apricot trees in bloom in a little orchard of fresh green.
To Theo, March 25
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Orchard with Blossoming Apricot Trees, 1888, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
I have been working on a size 20 canvas in the open air with an orchard, lilac ploughland, a reed fence, 2 peach trees against a sky of glorious blue and white. Probably the best landscape I have done.
I had just brought it home when I received from our sister a Dutch notice in memory of my teacher Mauve, with his portrait…Something—I don’t know what—took hold of me and brought a lump to my throat, and I wrote on my picture, Souvenir de Mauve.
To Theo, March 30
Vincent van Gogh, Pink Peach Trees, (Souvenir de Mauve), 1888, oil on canvas, Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands.
Now, for instance, I am working on 6 pictures of fruit trees in bloom.
To sister Wilhelmina, March 30
I’m in a fever of work since the trees are in blossom.
To Theo, April 2
Vincent van Gogh, Orchards in Bloom (Plum Trees), 1888, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland
The little pear tree has a violet trunk and white flowers, with a very yellow butterfly on one of the clusters. To the left in the corner, a little garden with a fence of yellow reeds, and green bushes, a flower bed, and little pink house.
To Theo, April 13
Vincent van Gogh, Blossoming Pear Tree, 1888, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
I have 10 orchards now, not counting 3 small studies and a large one of a cherry tree that I worked to death…..When will you be back, and what to do about the definitive consignment? Because I now have to change subjects, the orchards have mainly lost their blossoms…..
To Theo, April 20
Vincent van Gogh, Blossoming Orchard, 1888, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Research sources are: The Complete Van Gogh by Jan Hulsker; website Van Gogh Letters; and website Van Gogh Letters, Webexhibits.
The dates are approximate on many letters. Also art historians and scholars continue to debate the order of creation of some of Van Gogh’s orchards.