From Musée Rodin, Paris:
This painting by Van Gogh is closely related to Provence,where the artist spent the last three years of his life. On arriving in Arles in February 1888,he was amazed by the light that made all the colours so intense. In this picture, the view from above, which places the horizon line very high up and reduces the sky to a thin band, enables the golden wheat field and sheaves, gleaming in the summer heat, to occupy almost the entire canvas. In the upper part of the painting, between the edge of the field and the bluish profile of the town of Arles, the long silhouette of a train can be seen puffing clouds of steam that echo the smoke from the factory chimneys, in the distance, on the left.
This tranquil incorporation of modernity and progress into rural occupations and landscapes reflects the attraction Impressionist painters felt for the power and poetry of the railways, in the 1870s. The juxtaposed strokes of paint carefully applied in a specific direction, the brilliant, expressive colours and thick, frenzied brushwork, which are all characteristic of Van Gogh’s late period, are governed here by a bedazzled, sun-drenched vision. - See more at: http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en/collections/paintings/harvesters#sthash.KYQ83c2U.dpuf
To Theo van Gogh. Nuenen, Sunday, 4 October 1885.
My dear Theo,
I had wanted to inform you earlier of the safe receipt of your letter and the 150 francs enclosed. I’ve also received the September Lhermitte — it’s splendid.
You write about the Poussins in the Louvre — I like Poussin very much.
But what a long time ago it is — too long — since I saw those paintings. As to that — I need to see paintings, and I must do something about it. Precisely because I very much hope to go finding people for my own work, I think it will be good for me to go on a trip every now and then.
Longing most of all for Rembrandt and Frans Hals, one day this week I’m going to the museum in Amsterdam with a friend of mine in Eindhoven whose studies I once showed you. If I can acquire connections for my own work, I won’t fail to do so — and I firmly believe that with perseverance I’ll win.
As for the work, I’ve been painting a lot of still lifes lately, as I already wrote, and I like it enormously. I’ll send you some. I know that they’re difficult to sell — but it’s devilish useful and I’ll go on doing a lot to them in the winter.
You’ll get a large still life of potatoes — where I’ve tried to get body into it — I mean express the material. Such that they become lumps that have weight and are solid, which you’d feel if they were thrown at you, for instance.
Anyway, you’ll just have to see.
That dispute I had with the priest — I haven’t had much more bother with it. There’ll always be God-fearing natives in the village who’ll still believe me capable of it, though, because it’s certain that the priest would love to pin the blame for that business on me. Since I’m not to blame, though, the rumours from that quarter leave me completely cold. As long as they don’t get in the way of my painting I don’t take any notice of them whatsoever. I’ve remained on good terms with the peasants to whom it happened and where I went to paint a lot, and am just as welcome in their home as before.
I’m now working on still lifes of my birds’ nests, and I’ve finished 4 of them. I think that some people who know nature well might like them because of the colours of the moss, dry leaves and grasses, clay &c.
I’ll write to you again at the end of this week, when I’m back from the little trip to Amsterdam.
Since I have to pay my rent again next month, I can hardly afford the expense. But it’s essential. So more soon.
I’m sure my work will benefit in the long run if I see more paintings — because when I see a painting I can work out what it’s done with. As for Poussin — he’s a painter who thinks and makes one think about everything — in whose paintings all reality is at the same time symbolic. In the work of Millet, of Lhermitte, all reality is also symbolic at the same time.
They’re something other than what people call realists.
In the winter, when I have more time for it, I’ll make several drawings of this sort of thing. I feel for the brood and the nests — particularly those human nests, those cottages on the heath and their inhabitants.