I’ve been a self-taught, self-proclaimed artist ever since I was a child. I remember I was always excited as my sister brought home new prints and books for me to color. Disney characters, mandalas, random animals, whatever. Sometimes, I doodled and pretend it was an emotional abstract full of meaning and feelings.
I knew Van Gogh by one of his most famous works, the Starry Night. Only I cannot remember exactly how I knew him (maybe when I was already in high school, as that was the time internet boomed). As I Googled more of his works, I also became familiar with Sunflowers and Scream. But what I loved most is the Almond Blossom – almost made me think OMG is my favorite color blue? -.-
Well, as far as I knew, I didn’t have any favorite color (now it’s red!). But what I loved about Almond Blossom is 1) let’s admit it, it’s super pretty. I think every girl would definitely love this painting; 2) makes me feel life in general; and 3) the backstory (I just learned this after college) is full of meanings…and feels.
Van Gogh’s “Almond Blossom” was part of a recent “Van Gogh and Japan” joint exhibition of his own works and Japanese paintings and ironically the artist completed his final painting of the blossoming tree, an image of rebirth and new life, a few short months before his death by suicide.
It’s no news that VVG was a victim of a mental illness. He was suffering with his mental condition for years, that is now recognized as depression and being bipolar. That story made me realize how much extreme sadness would affect our thinking and…life. See, Vincent saw life from other people, but the sad part is he didn’t see life in himself.
These were in fact tough times for Van Gogh, but when he received the news his brother and patron, had welcomed a child into the world his mood changed. In his letter Theo wrote: As we told you, we’ll name him after you, and I’m making the wish that he may be as determined and as courageous as you.’
Almond branches are a subject that Van Gogh visited a few times before. In earlier studies, he painted cut branches set in a vase – as a still life. In this picture, Blossoming Almond Tree, for his nephew, he paints a very different composition. Instead of visiting the still life again, he shows white almond tree branches against a blue sky. It is not shown whether these branches are cut from the tree and sitting in a vase outside of the view of the viewer or if they are still on the tree, seen from below looking up towards the sky. It is an unusual composition for both art as a whole and for Van Gogh himself.
In May of 1890, he was able to leave Saint Paul’s in Saint-Remy and see his family; at this time he brought his painting of the almond tree. Unfortunately, his mental health continued to deteriorate, and he would die less than three months later in the summer of 1890.
Almond Blossom, by Vincent van Gogh, was painted in 1890 in honor of a special event in Vincent’s life. On January 31, Vincent’s brother Theo and his wife Johanna named their son Vincent Willem. The subject recalls Vincent’s own hopefulness when he first arrived in Arles seeking a European counterpart to Japan.
I excused myself earlier from work because I was almost feeling bombarded by “urgent” tasks and my brain was too tired to work so I needed a short break to regain my energy. OMG, I will miss this park when we transfer to the new office. 😦
By the way, “een” is the Dutch term for “one”. So expect more live paintings as the weeks go by, as I also need to practice and regain from being rusty!
Check out my sources!
- 10 Facts That You Don’t Know About “Almond Blossom”
- The Story Behind the Blossoming Almond Tree
- Vincent van Gogh Final Paintings
- Vincent Van Gogh: Blossoming Almond Tree
- BONUS: did you know that aside from backstories and interesting facts about VVG, you can also download high definition wallpapers here? >>> The Van Gogh Museum
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