Vincent van Gogh - Wheat Field in Rain 1889

Wheat Field in Rain 1889
Wheat Field in Rain
Oil on canvas 74.3 x 93.1 cm. Saint-Rémy: early November, 1889
Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Museum of Art

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From Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections
Vincent van Gogh voluntarily entered the clinic of Saint-Paul-de-Mausolée in southern France on May 8, 1889. The sanatorium sits just over the mountains from Arles, where Vincent had spent the previous winter producing some of his more energetic and moving canvases. It was also where he had suffered his most severe mental breakdowns, which eventually prompted his hospitalization. From his workroom at the clinic Van Gogh looked down on an enclosed field of wheat. During his eleven-month stay he drew or painted this view some twelve times. This picture of the wheat field during a rainstorm is the only work of its kind he did in the South, and while the idea of representing rainfall by diagonal slashes of paint clearly relates to Van Gogh's interest in Japanese prints, the final effect is completely personal and well beyond any borrowed source. There is truly nothing quite like it in his considerable output--truly nothing so gently and objectively observed, nothing so completely revealing his own state of mind. Joseph J. Rishel, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 203.

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, Wednesday, 24 April 1889.
My dear Vincent,
I was very touched by your letter, which we received yesterday, you really say too many kind things about a thing that’s just entirely natural, not taking into account that you’ve given it back to me several times over, both by your work and by a brotherly affection which is worth more than all the money I’ll ever possess. It pains me to know that you’re still in a state of incomplete health. Although nothing in your letter betrays weakness of mind, on the contrary, the fact that you judge it necessary to enter an asylum is quite serious in itself. Let’s hope that this will be merely a preventive measure. As I know you well enough to believe you capable of all the sacrifices imaginable, I’ve thought that there’s a possibility that you may have thought of this solution to encumber less those who know you. If that’s the case, I beg you not to do it, for certainly life in there can’t be agreeable. So be well aware of what you’re doing, and if perhaps you wouldn’t make another try first. Either by coming back here for a while, or by going to Pont-Aven during the summer, or by trying to board with people who would take care of you.
If you had no ulterior motive in writing to me as you did, I find that you’re absolutely right to go to St-Rémy. By staying there for a while you’ll be able to regain confidence in your own strength, and nothing will prevent you from returning to Arles after a little while if the heart tells you to. Mr Salles has sent me some prospectuses of St-Rémy in which it’s said that a third party must request admission. I therefore enclose the letter for the director of the establishment, which you can use however you wish. As soon as you’ve decided to leave I’ll send you the necessary money. Now I also want to tell you that we’ve been here since last Saturday, we’re almost settled in, and every day the apartment takes on a more lived-in aspect, thanks to all sorts of inventions on Jo’s part. We get along very well together, so that there’s such complete satisfaction on both sides that we feel happier than I can tell you. We left Mother and the sisters in perfect health. Ma seems to be getting younger. She has now gone back to Breda after an absence of almost a month. My marriage pleased her very much, above all because Jo and herself and Wil get on perfectly, moreover she has something so sincere in her ways that there are many people on whom she makes a very agreeable impression. Although there are many things of life about which she does not know and on which her opinion must be formed, she has such a fund of good will and ardour to do good that I’m no longer afraid of the disillusionments I feared before our marriage.

Up to now everything is going much better than I had thought, and I hadn’t dared hope for so much happiness. I didn’t have enough time in Holland to see many paintings, but I saw the Jewish bride once again, and the other Rembrandts, the F. Hals in Haarlem, which I found more beautiful than ever, and Rembrandt’s portrait of an old woman at the museum in Brussels. This last one is very fine. These old portraits are what’s most remarkable and most characteristic in Holland. We’re a long way from that age, when we see the people of today. At C.M.’s there was an exhibition of charcoal croquis by Mauve, leaves from his sketchbooks. Very touching things. Jet made us a present of one of those drawings, with which I’m very, very pleased.
Write to me soon about what you’ve definitely decided and don’t despair, for better days will certainly still come for you.
I shake both your hands.