GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)

Olive Groves in the Alpilles

June 1889, Saint-Rémy
Pencil, reed pen and ink on paper, 470 x 625 mm
Museum of Modern Art, new York

Catalogue numbers: F 1544, JH 1741.

To escape harassment from local inhabitants van Gogh left Arles in May 1889 and moved into a sanatorium, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, in the nearby village of Saint-Rémy. There he hoped he would be able to work quietly and have medical supervision in case of a recurrence of his epilepsy. Saint-Rémy lay beside the Provençal hills known as the Alpilles, which are extraordinary geological formations, low-lying, rocky crags, weathered into grotesque shapes and pitted by ravines and waterchannels which have cut their way through the rocks. In the plains beneath them are fertile olive groves. Van Gogh was fascinated by this novel landscape. He was often able to go out from the hospital and paint and draw these unusual surroundings. He developed a more sinuous, linear style in drawing and a more flowing manner in painting in order to represent their special shapes and features.