Van Gogh’s painting “Undergrowth”

Vincent van Gogh, Sous-bois, 1889
Vincent van Gogh, “Undergrowth”, July 1889. Oil on canvas, 49 x 64.3 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The Fondation has benefited since its opening from an annual loan from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, initiated between April 2014 and March 2015 with the painting Self-portrait with Pipe and Straw Hat and renewed from April 2015 to March 2016 with Piles of French Novels (1887). 

The painting Undergrowth (1889) – on loan from 1 April 2016 to 29 January 2017 – was executed two months after Van Gogh’s arrival at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he chose to recuperate for a whole year following the collapse of his cherished ambition to establish a community of artists in Arles. The canvas testifies to the more muted use of colour characterizing his works of this epoch. 

Whereas Vincent’s Arles period is hallmarked by his exploration of the glorious light and colour of the South, certain works from Saint-Rémy link back to the palette of his years in the North. With its close-up view of a section of forest floor bordering on abstraction, Undergrowth has inspired widely differing interpretations: for some, it is a claustrophobic vision reflecting Van Gogh’s troubled state of mind, while for others it represents an introspective reverie with an underwater feel… 

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