Saturday, November 01, 2008

Church at Auvers-sur-Oise

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is rather predictably one of my favourite painters, but this work is perhaps less known than some others. It is a depiction of the church in the town where he spent the last months of his life. We have seen the original in the Paris Musee d'Orsay, but even more striking was our visit to that small town itself just North of Paris, mainly to see his grave. The church is still intact and the locals have predictably mounted a reproduction of this work in front of it - a stunning effect. The artist wrote about this painting in a letter to his sister: "I have a larger picture of the village church — an effect in which the building appears to be violet-hued against a sky of simple deep blue colour, pure cobalt; the stained-glass windows appear as ultramarine blotches, the roof is violet and partly orange. In the foreground some green plants in bloom, and sand with the pink flow of sunshine in it. And once again it is nearly the same thing as the studies I did in Nuenen of the old tower and the cemetery, only it is probably that now the colour is more expressive, more sumptuous". The diverging path is a recurring theme in van Gogh's final works and may reflect his own mood at that time. More on van Gogh in the wikipedia article linked to below.