Country Road in Provence at Night – 1890, May

Country Road in Provence by Night – 1890 May, Vincent van Gogh


Country road in Provence by night (May, 1890)


Oil on Canvas

Size: 73cm x 92cm (28.7in x 36.2in)

Collection at Kröller-Müller Museum


“I still have a cypress with a star from down there, a last attempt – a night sky with a moon without radiance, the slender crescent barely emerging from the opaque shadow cast by the earth – one star with an exaggerated brilliance, if you like, a soft brilliance of pink and green in the ultramarine sky, across which some clouds are hurrying. Below, a road bordered with tall yellow canes, behind these the blue Basses Alpes, an old inn with yellow lighted windows, and a very tall cypress, very straight, very sombre.” (From Vincent van Gogh to Paul Gauguin, 17th of June, 1890, Auver-sur-Oise)


Continuation: “On the road, a yellow cart with a white horse in harness, and two late wayfarers. Very romantic, if you like, but also Provence, I think. I shall probably etch this and also other landscapes and subjects, memories of Provence, then I shall look forward to giving you one, a whole summary, rather deliberate and studied. My brother says that Lauzet, who does the lithographs after Monticelli, liked the head of the Arlésienne in question.”


Vincent van Gogh painted about 12 – 13 paintings of cypresses. (What is Cypress? Click here for a brief Google definition) The first one Vincent painted was in Arles while his stay with Paul Gauguin (this is the period of The Yellow House, the self-mutilation?). These were mainly landscape paintings executed in La Crau plateau to the North of Arles – first in 1888. In Arles, he found nature to be his dominant subject of studies. The town of Arles said to have been on par with historical advancement with that of Marseilles which flourished in its civilization during Julius Caesar’s period against Pompey.


Here’s a comment from his letter on nature of Arles:

” I have been overwhelmed with work lately, for the weather is glorious, and I must make the most of the fine days, which are short.”

“…the weather today has been fine. This morning I worked on an orchard of plum trees in bloom; all at once a fierce wind sprang up, an effect I had seen nowhere else but here, and returned at intervals. The sun shone in between, and all the little white flowers sparkled. It was so lovely.”


But it wasn’t until his time in Saint-Remy de Provence that shapes of cypress began to resemble what we know of today. Think of the Starry Night – the tree in the painting is also a cypress. It seem to be evolving or erupting in shape and size.  Thanks to the use of perspective the tree dominate a fair portion of the canvas. After this are the series of similar paintings which are titled: Wheat Field with Cypresses which are one month prior and one month after the Starry Night was painted. Scholars and art historians together with critics have acclaimed the Wheat Field with Cypresses by Vincent van Gogh to be the epitome of his career.

There are three identical paintings of Wheat Field with Cypresses. Two of the larger ones (Approx. 70cm x 90cm / 28.5in x 35in) are in museums at London National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York.


The other one? Is smaller in size about 2/3 of the other two and has been kept as a Private Collection.

Imagine waking up every morning to the original painting by Vincent van Gogh at sunrise.


That’s something I could greed over a bit 😉


Anyway, I’ve sidetracked but that’s the brief story about cypress. I will post more of the cypress series this week. I hope you enjoyed it and learned a thing or two from this post 🙂


Vincent van Gogh was 37 years old (roughly 2 months before death)


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