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Vincent Van Gogh - Cornfield with Crows

by Alexandra Tuschka

It is known as van Gogh's last painting, created in July 1890, just a few days before the artist's death. This theory, however, seems to be a myth to underline the dramatic nature of the circumstances. The painting "Tree Roots", which has recently been treated as the most likely alternative, is unlikely to provoke such controversy as the Cornfield with Crows. This seems almost predestined as a "painted farewell letter" or "painterly testament".

Van Gogh attached two square canvases to each other for this format. In one of his last letters to his brother Theo, Vincent writes gloomily prophetic about the late, unspecified, landscape paintings: "They are endless cornfields under dull skies, and I have not shied away from trying to express sadness and extreme loneliness[...]" And further the famous sentence: "I would probably have written to you about many things, but first of all I have completely lost the desire to do so, and then I feel how useless it is." The resignation expressed in these lines culminates in the famous chest shot in the open field that would lead to van Gogh's death two days later.

The somber mood of the painting, the dark looming clouds, the crows fluttering wildly through the picture, flying, like messengers, into the open field or else coming towards us and which one can literally hear screaming, announce doom.

The middle path meanders slightly into the center of the picture and ends in the unknown. To the right and to the left two others lead out of the picture borders. The ears of the field sway in the wind. Blue and yellow, applied opaquely and dynamically with a lot of color, reinforce the drastic impression of the picture as a complementary contrast.

Vincent Van Gogh - Cornfield with Crows

Oil on canvas, 1890, 51 cm × 101 cm, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam


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