(b. 1848, Paris, d. 1903, Atuona, Hiva Oa, French Polynesia)

In the Garden of the Hospital at Arles

Oil on canvas, 72 x 93 cm
Art Institute, Chicago

In the autumn of 1888, van Gogh began a series of paintings depicting the public gardens in Arles, and this is a further instance of Gauguin's choice of the same subject matter, painted in mid-November. However, the treatment is quite different: whereas van Gogh continued to paint from the motif, Gauguin's version is highly stylised, based on the play of geometricized shapes, treated with bold washes of colour. The absence of any horizon or aerial perspective contributes to a flat picture surface, which owes something to the influence of Japanese art. The objects in the background (the pond, fountain and park bench) are seen as if from above whereas the elements in the foreground and middle distance (including the young trees packed in straw as protection against the frost) are viewed as if at eye-level. The woman in the foreground is Madame Ginoux, whom both van Gogh and Gauguin had already depicted. This is one of the works that Theo van Gogh acquired from Gauguin in the winter of 1888-89.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.