Focus: a look, a work
THE RED VINE AT ARLES (LA VIGNE ROUGE) Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), 1888 - Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia
COULD THIS HARVEST SCENE HAVE REALLY TAKEN PLACE?
Van Gogh painted two landscapes featuring vines in oils – The Green Vine and The Red Vine – during his period in Arles, where he lived from 20th February 1888. The Red Vine is one of the artist’s best-known paintings, and often said to be the only one sold in his lifetime – in February 1890, five months before his suicide.
He produced a harvest scene in late October, near Arles, depicting red vines.
This is decidedly odd: Arles is in a Mediterranean region, a late-October harvest is still terribly late. Usually, a harvest by that time takes place before the vines turn red. There is a plethora of grape-pickers – twenty-one! Night has almost fallen. What to make of this harvest scene? Could it have really taken place as Van Gogh depicts it, so late in the year? Let’s examine the evidence in Van Gogh’s Letters to his brother Théo...
THE VERY RICH HOURS OF THE DUKE OF BERRY, CALENDAR Barthélémy d'Eyck, ca. 1440 - Musée Condé, Chantilly, France
THE GLASS OF WINE or A LADY DRINKING AND A GENTLEMAN Vermeer, ca. 1658-1660 - Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany
DIANA AND THE CENTAUR Drinking game, Hans Jakobe Bachmann 1602/06 - Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna, Austria
AN ALLEGORY OF GLUTTONY or THE SHIP OF THE FOOLS (LA NEF DES FOUS) H. Bosch, ca. 1495/1500 - Musée du Louvre, Paris
IN A PRIVATE DINING ROOM or AT THE RAT MORT (EN CABINET PARTICULIER) Toulouse-Lautrec, 1899 - Courtauld Institute, London
A YOUNG MAN OFFERING A CUP OF WINE TO A GIRL Persian miniature 16th century - MFA, Boston, CT, USA (available soon)
BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt ca. 1636-1638 - National Gallery, London (available soon)
SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1513/16 - Musée du Louvre, Paris (available soon)
MEN AT WORK PRUNING ON A HILLSIDE Illumination, ca. 1478/80 - British Library, London (available soon)
THE LAST SUPPER Tintoretto, 1559 - St François-Xavier Church, Paris (available soon)