Sunday, 12 August 2012

Almond Blossoms

Van Gogh writes of the weather and that the almond trees are coming into full flower, "The weather here is changeable, often windy with turbulent skies, but the almond trees are beginning to flower everywhere."

Theo wrote to his brother Vincent on January 31, 1890 to announce the birth of his son, Vincent Willem Van Gogh. As a means of celebration, Van Gogh began work on a painting for Theo and his wife. He was very close to his brother and he sought to symbolize new life in the flowers of the almond tree for the birth of baby Vincent.

Van Gogh wrote to his mother of the birth of Theo and Jo's baby,
"How glad I was when the news came... I should have greatly preferred him to call the boy after Father, of whom I have been thinking so much these days, instead of after me; but seeing it has now been done, I started right away to make a picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, big branches of white almond blossom against a blue sky."

The composition is unlike any other of Van Gogh's paintings. The branches of the almond tree seem to float against the blue sky and fill the picture plane. The close-up of the branches brings to mind Delacroix's proposition that "even a part of a thing is kind of a complete entity in itself." Dark lines outline the branches. This is a feature that Van Gogh had admired in Japanese floral studies that, for example, may depict of a portion of a stalk of bamboo in an empty space. The bright color is reflective of the paintings made in Arles and the transformational work Van Gogh had on the still life genre..


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