oil on canvas
Unframed: 13 × 16 1/2 in. (33 × 41.9 cm)
Framed: 20 1/2 × 23 3/4 × 2 1/4 in. (52.07 × 60.33 × 5.72 cm)
Compared to the tiring pace of life in bustling Paris, the Provençal town of Arles appeared to Van Gogh as an exotic land populated by otherworldly beings. He had moved there in February 1888, hopeful that its bright skies and bountiful flora would allow him to fully explore the effects of color and set his work apart from other Post-Impressionist painters. He began filling his canvases with views of the region: expansive fields and skies, blossoming fruit trees, interiors and exteriors of houses, depictions of townsfolk and self-portraits, and floral still lifes—works that constituted the iconography of Van Gogh's first great period. By this time, the techniques of Japanese printmaking were deeply ingrained into his creative process, and he conceived the majority of his compositions with what he called his "Japanese eye." Stylistic features he borrowed from 19th-century ukiyo-e woodcuts for this still life include the high line of horizon that allows a detailed view of the flowers, the emphasis on the foreground and background to suggest spatial depth, and bright, flat areas of color. Although the monochromatic green tones are immediately perceived, Van Gogh introduced contrasting notes throughout the composition, painting streaks of blue around the orange terracotta pot and adding a red signature. His method of squeezing tube paint directly onto his canvas to create bold outlines testifies to the intense and prolific pace of his creative output during his first summer in Arles.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
2019-2020: "Van Gogh Monet Degas, The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", Palazzo Zabarella, Padua, Italy, October 26, 2019 - March 1, 2020

2019-2021: Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, February 2 - May 5, 2019; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS, April 4, 2020 - January 10, 2021

2018-2019: "Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", The Frick Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, March 17 - July 15, 2018; Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 22 - September 22, 2019

2018: Collecting for the Commonwealth Preserving for the Nation, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1919-2018, Winter Antiques Show, Park Avenue Armory, New York City, NY, January 18 - 26, 2018.

Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse, Dallas Museum of Art, October 26, 2014 - February 8, 2015; Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower, VMFA, March 21, 2015 - June 21, 2015; In Bloom: Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism, Denver Art Museum, July 19 - October 11, 2015

“French Paintings from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and Mrs. Mellon Bruce,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 17 March – 1 May 1966, no. 132 (illus.)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Curator’s Talk: The Reinstallation of the Mellon Collection

The collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts given by Paul and Rachel Mellon constitute an essential facet of the museum’s identity. Dr. Sylvain Cordier, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art, discusses the reinstallation of the Mellon Collection.

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.