Vincent van Gogh, The Large Plane Trees (Road Menders at Saint-Rémy), 1889. Oil on fabric, 28 7/8 x 36 1/8 in. The Cleveland Museum of Art. Gift of the Hanna Fund, 1947
During his stay at the mental institution in Saint- Rémy, van Gogh painted a few autumn studies amid the changing colors. In a letter to his brother Theo, he described his progress: “The last study I did is a view of the village – where people were at work – under enormous plane trees – repairing the pavements. So there are piles of sand, stones and the gigantic tree-trunks – the yellowing foliage, and here and there glimpses of a house-front and little figures.”
The bright leaves inspired him so much that he quickly captured the moment on a piece of cloth, resulting in The Large Plane Trees.
How would the leaves on the trees look different if he had waited a few more weeks to paint this picture? How would the colors be different? How might the composition look different? Would the mood have changed?
Vincent van Gogh, Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse), 1889. Oil on canvas, 36 1/2 x 28 5/8 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bequest of John T. Spaulding
While living in Arles, van Gogh became close friends with his neighbors, the Roulin family. He painted Madame Augustine Roulin on several occasions and made five repetitions of La Berceuse, an example of which can be seen above.
The title La Berceuse can translate as: lullaby, woman who rocks a cradle, or cradle that rocks. All of the La Berceuse paintings show Madame Roulin holding the rope that she used to rock her baby’s cradle.
Van Gogh intended La Berceuse to be part of a triptych, an art work composed of three parts. He planned to hang it in between two of his paintings of sunflowers.
Imagine that you were creating your own triptych with La Berceuse at the center. What would you hang on either side? Graduate Intern Caitlin Brague made the example below to help inspire you. Proud of your work? Share your drawing on Instagram, tagging @phillipscollection.
A triptych inspired by La Berceuse by Caitlin Brague.