What is drawing? It is working oneself through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do. - Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh to His Brother
Image: La nuit étoilée or 'The Starry Night as known in English, a study for the well-known painting of Saint-Rémy under a swirling sky. The dramatic cypress tree was not actually present at the site, but was added by van Gogh for the sake of composition and expression. I've seen a story that this was inspired by a nasty encounter with some boys who threw stones; Vincent was going to paint the town and trees on fire, but then thought better of it and changed it into a poplar. (Though still, the Poplar is supposedly a symbol of death.) I haven't found a source for the story yet, so I don't know if it is true. Expressive trees were favorite themes in his work as you can see in this view of the village with poplars.
Vincent wrote in a letter: "At last I have a landscape with olive trees, and also a new study of a starry sky. ... It’s not a return to the romantic or to religious ideas, no. However, by going the way of Delacroix, more than it seems, by color and a more determined drawing than trompe-l’oeil precision, one might express a country nature that is purer than the suburbs, the bars of Paris.
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More on FranceFind out more about Van Gogh's world by learning about Provence and some of its cultural traditions.
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