In 1889, Vincent Van Gogh admitted himself into an asylum in Saint-Rémy, France. He made this decision after having a break-down and mutilating his ear. This incident happened because of an argument the artist had with his fellow Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, ending their partnership. Van Gogh had hopes of convincing Gauguin to join and mentor him in what he called the Studio of the South, in the Yellow House he rented in Arles. His second series of sunflowers was painted to decorate the studio and mainly to welcome Gauguin.
After being admitted to the asylum, the artist spent some time in recovery. Eventually, he regained enough of his health and gained permission to wander the outskirts of the asylum to paint. During one of these outings, Van Gogh painted The Mulberry Tree and was very glad about the outcome. He wrote letters to his brother Theo and his sister Willemina speaking of this work with great pride.
The Post-Impressionist was a master of creating complementary color combinations, and this painting is a perfect example of this. The Mulberry Tree is considered a masterpiece and filled with vibrant and contrasting colors. The tree grows from a rocky ground painted with tonalities of white, yellow, brown, orange and green. The light-toned ground creates a beautiful contrast with the deep and dark blue shades of the sky, which take up a lot less of the canvas than the ground.
The tree trunk is merely painted in brown, with dark contours, leading to the main focal point of the painting – the leaves. Van Gogh used vibrant pigments of orange, yellow and a hint of green to depict the leaves, also with dark contours. He used thick layers of paint and loose brush strokes to create an impasto.
Profoundly influenced by the Impressionists, Van Gogh found it necessary to work outside, or as they called it en plein air. He often didn’t like the result he got from painting landscapes indoors or finishing them in the studio, for he valued the observation of natural light. He also was very inspired by the Japanese woodcut prints and their use of vibrant colors, dark contours, and scenes of the daily-life and nature. He had an extensive collection of these prints, as well as other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists did at the time.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
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