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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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