About 4 years ago I was introduced to a show called Doctor Who. In case you aren’t familiar with the show it’s about a guy named the Doctor who travels around all of space and time in a blue police box called the TARDIS. One of my favorite episodes is when the Doctor travels back in time and meets Vincent van Gogh. The story of Vincent van Gogh’s life is very tragic and sad. One example being he never sold a painting until after he died. He suffered from severe anxiety and depression, but from this pain in his life he turned in into such beauty in his artwork. My favorite thing about that episode that is really beautiful is at the end the Doctor brings Vincent to the Musee d’Orsay in in Paris in the year 2010. He takes him to show him all of his own artwork on display, and while there the curator explains how he believes Van Gogh is the greatest painter to ever live. The story of his life has really stuck with me because I have dealt with mental illness in my family I know the pain that it brings and to still be able to create such beauty from that pain. This painting Sunset at Montmajour has a very interesting story. Originally in 1890 it was inventoried as his brother Theo van Gogh’s artwork, and it was sold in 1901 and there was no record of it until 1908 where it was purchased again by a man named Christian Nicolai Mustad. He believed that it was Vincent van Gogh’s artwork and displayed it in his home until a French ambassador told him it probably wasn’t so it was taken down and stored away until Mustad’s death. In 1990 it was brought to the staff at the Van Gogh Museum but they dismissed it because it wasn’t signed. But finally in 2011 a 2 year investigation took place to determine if it was an authentic Van Gogh. It wasn’t until September of 2013 that this painting was confirmed to be Vincent van Gogh’s artwork because there was a letter Van Gogh wrote to his brother describing landscape that he had painted. The first thing about this painting that drew my attention to it was when it was first confirmed as a Van Gogh painting in the news all the Whovians, otherwise known as fans of Doctor Who, were saying there is a TARDIS in the background. Although the thing we all thought to be the TARDIS was actually the ruins of Montmajour Abbey, which makes a lot more sense, it was still nice to feel like there was a connection between my favorite show and this beautiful artwork. What I love about this painting is Van Gogh’s use of color to depict such beauty but it has such a rugged look and makes you focus more on the colors of the scene instead of the details of the scene. Sunset at Montmajour was painted in 1888, two years before Van Gogh’s controversial suicide. One thing you can tell when looking at this painting is that Van Gogh was in very good spirts because of his use of yellow. If you look through all of his paintings you can see the contrast between his happy paintings in which he uses yellow or his very dark and depressing paintings.
- Why were people so quick to dismiss this piece and say that it wasn’t Van Gogh when his style is very clearly evident in this painting?
- Why did Van Gogh focus more on the land as his focus instead of the Montmajour Abbey?
- Why did Van Gogh not sell any paintings while he was alive?
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