Orchard with Blossoming Apricot Trees, 1888, Vincent van Gogh.
Today marks the vernal equinox, generally considered the first day of Spring. In the eastern United States, it’s been a dismal winter (which still hasn’t released us from its clutches). We long for Spring.
Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass, 1888, Vincent van Gogh.
Vincent van Gogh painted a series of flowering almond trees in Arles and Saint-Rémy in 1888 and 1890. When he arrived in Arles in March 1888, the orchards were about to bloom. The blossoms ensnared him. In a month he produced fourteen paintings of blossoming peach, plum and apricot trees. “I am up to my ears in work for the trees are in blossom and I want to paint a Provençal orchard of astonishing gaiety,” he wrote.
Van Gogh’s Almond Tree in Bloom, 1888, resonates with me because it is a baby tree. So often we only see the picturesque in old trees.
The most well-known of his blossom paintings, of flowering branches against a blue field, has been reproduced on everything from ipod hardcases to duvet covers to switch plate covers.
It’s a pity this painting has been so misused, because he painted it in commemoration of the birth of his namesake nephew. “How glad I was when the news came... I should have greatly preferred him to call the boy after Father, of whom I have been thinking so much these days, instead of after me; but seeing it has now been done, I started right away to make a picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, big branches of white almond blossom against a blue sky,” he wrote.
Van Gogh was already studying flowering trees before he went to Arles. His Japonaiserie Flowering Plum Tree (1887, after Hiroshige) is a study in the Japanese woodcut style he admired so much.
I love orchards at any time of the year, but particularly in spring. This year I am feeling the same stirring to be out in an orchard when the apple trees blossom.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!