Sunday, December 11

“Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun” by Vincent van Gogh

In May of 1889, in the depths of a mental health crisis, Vincent van Gogh retreated to an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, in southern France. Here, the artist, who would die by suicide the next year, sought solace in painting. He captured the view through his bedroom window, studied irises in the hospital garden and—when allowed outside the asylum gates—set up his easel in the ancient olive groves that surrounded the village. “There are very beautiful fields of olive trees here, which are gray and silvery in leaf,” he wrote to his mother. Van Gogh made the trees the subject of 15 paintings. “He was still experimenting—these were important compositions for him,” says Katie Luber, noting the sculptural quality of the painter’s brush strokes and his color combinations. “I don’t know if I would say that he found peace in the olive groves,” she says. “But he found something.” – Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine, June 2022 What do you think van Gogh found?