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Focus: a look, a work


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, 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...  

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