Vincent van Gogh: A close look at The Harvest


Every painting has a story.
1 / 12
next
Slide 1: Slide
Art and designGeographyLower Secondary Education (GCSE)Upper Secondary Education

This lesson contains 12 slides, with text slides.

time-iconLesson duration is: 15 min

Introduction

This lesson is about the making of Van Gogh's painting The Harvest (1888).

Instructions

General learning objectives
- The students will be introduced to Vincent van Gogh.
- The students will examine The Harvest from various perspectives: art historical, geographical and literary.

Items in this lesson


Every painting has a story.

Slide 1 - Slide

This item has no instructions

Artist Vincent van Gogh
Title The Harvest
Date June 1888
Place Arles, southern France
Collection Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Slide 2 - Slide

In February 1888, Vincent van Gogh was living in southern France, in the town of Arles. He went for regular walks in the nearby fields, in search of subjects for his paintings.

'In July he wrote to his brother Theo, 'As for landscapes, I’m beginning to find that some . . . are among the best things I do. It’s like that with the one of which I sent you the drawing . . .'

Slide 3 - Slide

In July he wrote to his brother Theo, 'As for landscapes, I’m beginning to find that some . . . are among the best things I do. It’s like that with the one of which I sent you the drawing . . .'


c. 1 July 1888 (letter 635)




"... the Harvest..."

Slide 4 - Slide

Quote

Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo, c. 1 July 1888 (letter 635)

Watercolour

The Harvest, June 1888 (private collection)





'. . . and the haystacks too . . .'

Slide 5 - Slide

Quote

Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo, c. 1 July 1888  

Watercolour

Haystacks, June 1888 (private collection)

(original in colour, reproduction in black and white)

Painting

Haystacks in Provence, June 1888 (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo)




Vincent wrote the title of this drawing in the lower left corner: La moisson ('The Harvest').

Slide 6 - Slide

Vincent first made a number of drawings of the landscape to explore his subject.

Left

The Harvest, June 1888 (private collection)

Right

The Blue Cart, June 1888 (Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop)

Slide 7 - Slide

He also made a sketch in oils of the farmhouse at the upper right in the painting The Harvest.


Wheatfield, June 1888, collection of  the P. and N. de Boer Foundation, Amsterdam




The farmhouse on the right in the painting looks just the same as it does in the sketch, but you can clearly see that the perspective is different.
'I exaggerate, I sometimes make changes to the subject, but still I don’t invent the whole of the painting; on the contrary, I find it ready-made — but to be untangled — in the real world.' Vincent to his friend Émile Bernard, c. 5 October 1888
(letter 698)

Slide 8 - Slide

So the painting The Harvest is not a frozen moment. Vincent returned regularly to the place that he was painting. Before he started work, he carefully prepared.

 

Audio

Impression of the sounds that Vincent may have heard while working on The Harvest.

Slide 9 - Slide

More than 10 months later, Vincent made another painting in the same spot, but facing a different direction. The Alpilles ('little Alps') mountain range is visible in the background, just as it is in The Harvest.

 

La Crau with Peach Trees in Blossom, April 1889, collection of the Courtauld Gallery, London

Een herkenbaar element in De oogst is de abdij van Montmajour, de ruïne van een oud klooster in de buurt van Arles. Die staat daar tegenwoordig nog steeds.
Foto
www.tourisme-en-france.com

Slide 10 - Slide

One recognisable element of The Harvest is Montmajour Abbey, the ruins of a centuries-old monastery near Arles. Those ruins can still be found there.

 

Photograph from www.tourisme-en-france.com

Slide 11 - Map

If you zoom in on Arles on the map, the abbey ('Abbaye') will appear to the northeast of the town. You can clearly see that most of the area is still farmland, as it was when Van Gogh painted there.

Slide 12 - Link

You can examine the painting in detail on the website of the Van Gogh Museum.