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Olive Grove, Saint-Rémy
  • Artist Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 - 1890)
  • TitleOlive Grove, Saint-Rémy
  • Dating 1889
  • Technique/MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions74 x 93 cm
  • AcquisitionGift, 1917
  • Art MovementPostimpressionism
  • CategoryOil painting
  • Inventory NumberGKM 0590
  • Display StatusOn display in The French Collection II (Room 29)
Description
Exhibition History
Bibliography
Scattered across the flat slope are rows of gnarled olive trees. With the sun so low they cast long blue shadows over the reddish-brown soil. The sky is fading from yellow at the horizon to green, and is veiled with thin wisps of blue and red cloud. The treetops are tinged with green and blue with splashes of orange. The contrast between the red tones and the blue shadows makes for an evocatively autumnal picture. The artist has used short, distinct brushstrokes that convey an impression of vibrating motion. The roughly drawn tree trunks seem to twist, human-like, adding to the painting’s intensity and anxiety.
In a letter to Theo, Van Gogh wrote of the series of paintings of olive groves of which Olive Grove, Saint-Rémy was one: »It’s silver, sometimes more blue, sometimes greenish, bronzed, whitening on ground that is yellow, pink, purplish or orangeish to dull red ochre. But very difficult, very difficult.«
The first version (in the Kröller-Müller Museum) is less stylized; in the Gothenburg Museum of Art painting, Van Gogh has more clearly worked up the motif with his characteristic brushwork. The one that he thought most successful he gave to his friend Dr Gachet, his doctor. Another version with the cooler shade of blue is in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and may well have been painted the same day. In the paintings that ended the series, he has included olive-picking peasants. (The final painting is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.) The Olive Grove, Saint-Rémy in Gothenburg is instead an expression of the artist’s solitary encounter with the landscape, which in his hands exudes both beauty and melancholy.
Vincent van Gogh’s pictures have been interpreted as bearing the imprint of his fragile psyche. Yet Van Gogh’s work was always informed by his careful observation of Nature, where the visible was processed into a new vision of heightened colours and expressive brushwork.

Kristoffer Arvidsson from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014