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Rain

1889
Vincent Willem van Gogh, Dutch, 1853 - 1890

Among the subjects Vincent van Gogh returned to several times during his stay at a private clinic outside Arles was an enclosed wheat field visible from his bedroom window. He selected a plunging perspective that emphasized the undulating surface of the newly sown field and the nearby foothills of the Alps. An uneven furrow of earth cuts diagonally across the foreground, an unsettling seam that echoes the wall’s shape. Equally disquieting are the mint-green, baby-blue, and white lines that sit on top of the landscape, creating a screen of raindrops seen close-up. These slashing diagonal strokes document an October rain shower that kept Van Gogh indoors and pay homage to the Japanese woodblock prints he admired that depicted rain in a similar fashion. Van Gogh’s year at the clinic marked a productive phase in his career, despite his struggle with an illness his doctors treated as a type of epilepsy.

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Object Details
Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam (widow of Theo van Gogh); sold to Hugo von Tschudi (1851-1911), Berlin, April 1903 [1]; by inheritance to his widow Angela von Tschudi, Munich, who placed it on extended loan to the Neue Pinakothek, Munich; sold to Paul Rosenberg & Co., Paris and New York, 1928, until 1949 [2]; sold to Henry P. McIlhenny, Philadelphia, May 19, 1949 [3]; bequest to PMA, 1986.1. Purchased by Tschudi from the Munich Secession exhibition in 1903 (note in curatorial file).2. See letter from Walter Feilchenfeldt to Peter C. Sutton dated September 11, 1989 (copy in curatorial file). The painting was exhibited almost every year between 1935-1948, including the traveling Belgrade, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and Chicago exhibition between 1939-1941.3. The receipt dated February 24, 1950 from Rosenberg to McIlhenny (copy in curatorial file), notes the first payment on May 19, 1949 and payment in full on February 24, 1950.

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