Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Vincent van Gogh’s Last Painting?

In July 1980, Vincent van Gogh painted one of his best-known artworks, Wheatfield with Crows
Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Post-Impresionism

Vincent van Gogh’s Last Painting?

In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh painted one of his best-known artworks, Wheatfield with Crows. The painting is on display in The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and has long been thought of as his last painting before committing suicide only weeks later.

Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Although there are many who have disputed the claim that this painting is the last artwork ever made by Vincent van Gogh, it is certainly possible to understand why the tragic end to van Gogh’s life has been so closely associated with this image. Many elements of the painting can be interpreted as indicating the emotional turmoil van Gogh experienced and as a result, it makes for an interesting example of how an artwork can be reflective of the mental state of an artist.

The painting itself is oil on canvas, vivid in colour and expressive in brushstrokes; as is typical of van Gogh’s style. The canvas depicts a gold wheatfield with threatening skies overhead and crows swarming amongst the wheat. A path divides the field, leading to nowhere. It is a fantastically bleak scene and one which visualises the intense loneliness that van Gogh was experiencing and wrote about in his published letters. Looking first at the sky, the ominous darkness above the field can be interpreted as reflecting the impending depression in van Gogh’s own life. In addition, the suggestion of an incoming storm through the darkened blue paint has been read as foreshadowing of his death. The birds in the painting also act as an effective reference to van Gogh’s emotional state. Commonly featured in horror films and gothic literature, crows are often used as an indicator of darkness or as an omen of death, which is especially fitting in this painting.

Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting

Frame from The Birds (1963) by Alfred Hitchcock


The location of the wheatfield in the painting has been linked to the outskirts of Auvers-sur-Oise, France, where van Gogh spent his last months. The field has also been associated with the location of van Gogh’s suicide, another reason for the assumption that this was, in fact, his last painting. It is thought that van Gogh shot himself in the chest in a location similar to that depicted, managing to return to his room in Auvers where he would die. Knowing this, it is understandable why Wheatfield with Crows has been interpreted to be a suicide note as it appears to depict the exact setting of van Gogh’s death; the disorder of the crows can even be seen as responding to a gunshot.

Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting

Vincent van Gogh, Street in Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890, Ateneum, Finland, Helsinki

This painting by van Gogh is particularly remarkable because it is an excellent demonstration of how meaning and value are applied to an artwork. Van Gogh painted many wheatfields during his artistic career, none of which have received as much attention as the painting we are looking at today. It seems that because of the tragic circumstances surrounding it, this artwork has developed a particular authority and value, one which continues to stick regardless of it not necessarily being his ‘last painting’. Therefore, Wheatfield with Crows makes us ask a question which can be applied to many masterpieces; is it the painting itself or the artist behind it which gives meaning to an artwork?


If you love van Gogh here’s more to read:
The Story of Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom And Its Three Versions

The Sad Story Of Vincent Van Gogh And His Lovers


Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Joseph Roulin

Learn more:

  

Art Historian and writer with a love for everything creative. I am especially interested in the connection between art and emotion, as well as being very interested in religious art. UK based.

Comments

More in Post-Impresionism

  • Impressionism

    Paint Me Like One of Your French Girls: The Life and Business of Agostina Segatori

    By

    Agostina Segatori’s face is most widely recognized in the works of key artists between 1860 and 1887. Her Italian features inspired many painters in Paris at the time, leading to an enviable career. However, her achievements are far greater than her modelling success. Navigating the web...

  • 19th Century

    Olga Boznanska: An Uneasy Story of a Polish Painter

    By

    Olga Boznanska is one of the most famous female Polish Post-Impressionists. Her multiple portraits of fragile women and children are permeated with notes of melancholy which Olga carried with her from early childhood. Was it because of something that had happened to her in the past?...

  • 19th Century

    The Dazzling Davies Sisters and Their Impressionist Art

    By

    The Davies sisters grew up in a remote corner of Victorian Wales. They were religious, teetotal and never married. But these demure young women, with no previous art knowledge, managed to gather together probably the most important collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the...

  • 19th Century

    DailyArt Magazine Turns Four! Our Impressions of the Impressionists

    By

    July 13th, we as an online magazine reach another milestone. Four whole years of bringing you articles on hundreds of topics relating to art history! To celebrate this birthday, members of our team contributed their thoughts on a particular art movement: Impressionism and the Impressionist artists....

  • The best can-can paintings in Art History. The best can-can paintings in Art History.

    19th Century

    Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergère: Best Can-Can Paintings in Art History

    By

    Can-can paintings depict the most famous dance of La Belle Époque era. Originating in France, the Can-can, associated with skirts, petticoats, high kicks, splits, and cartwheels became popular in the 1840s. Although originally danced by both women and men, it is now traditionally associated with a...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy