Almond Blossom: Made by Van Gogh for Another Van Gogh

Almond Blossom painting by Vincent Van Gogh

The painting Almond Blossom stands out if you look at all the other paintings created by Van Gogh during 1889-1890. Perhaps the reason for this disparity was the reason why this painting was created. Almond Blossom is a painting that shows a slice of Van Gogh’s life where he was truly happy. A moment of hope and joy. This painting was not created for any exhibitions or the artistic satisfaction of the painter. It was created for another Van Gogh.

About Almond Blossom

Almond Blossom was painted in February 1890 when Van Gogh was in the Saint-Rémy asylum. He had previously suffered from episodes of psychosis, one which has been famously (or infamously) immortalized in the painting “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear”. Almond Blossom was painted right after he was allowed to leave the asylum premises and go out in the open world to experience nature. 

This painting was, for a long time, in possession of the Van Gogh family, for whom it was painted. It was never sold, owing to the connection it has with the artist and the recipient of this painting. Currently, the painting sits in the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands. Since this was created for Van Gogh’s nephew, it still is in his possession.

Analysis of Almond Blossom 

Almond Blossom was a painting meant as a gift for the newborn son of Theo Van Gogh, the painter’s brother. Theo Van Gogh decided to name his son after his brother, Vincent Van Gogh. This elated Van Gogh so much that he decided to make a painting for the “other Van Gogh”. But this painting holds more meaning than just blooming flowers. Let’s analyze and see.

The painting is made using oil on canvas with detailed brush strokes. With a greenish-blue background which is meant to represent the blue sky, the subject of the painting is multiple branches of an almond tree, blooming with white flowers. This flourishing scene has a lot of significance as it represents growth, spring, warmth, and happiness. It represents hope and hope was what Van Gogh wanted.

Van Gogh chose a turquoise shade as the major color for this painting. The interesting perspective here is also what makes this painting unique. Gogh decided to keep the tree out. All he wanted to show was the branches and the blue sky behind. There is no reference for this subject. Just some branches in the vast sky.

As is common with other Van Gogh’s paintings, the Japanese influence on this painting is clear. The planar perspective without any dimension makes this painting very similar to the woodblock print paintings. The lack of shadows and highlights is what creates this effect. 

Flowers were some of Van Gogh’s most favorite subjects to paint. And this painting is a testament to that. The detailing, the framing, the coloring, all speak of the joyfulness with which Van Gogh painted it. Van Gogh also loved the colors blue and yellow. One can see how many shades of blue he has used here.

Real Almond Blossom compared to the Almond Blossom painting
Image Courtesy by Mael Renault

What does the painting Almond Blossom represent?

Since we know the reason for the origin of the Almond Blossom painting, one can easily assume the meaning of this painting with the right context. This painting was meant for a newborn child. The blossoming of the flower represents the birth of Van Gogh’s nephew. But there’s more.

If you look at a real almond blossom, the flowers, as they mature, turn pink. But in this painting, no pink flowers can be seen. This is to show the natal stage of the child. The child has just entered the world in this beautiful season of spring. And spring adds another dimension to this painting. 

Spring is the month of bloom. The greens are more vibrant, the sky is clear blue and the earth loses its mud-brown tone and gets a blanket of colors. This is the time of a year where fertility, growth, and love reign. For Van Gogh, this slice of time, no matter how small, was that moment of joy. 

It was a few days later after spring when Van Gogh would kill himself, overwhelmed by his mental afflictions. His last spring was short, but it was powerful. It was a moment when he felt truly joyful when he believed in a new start and a happy life. So Almond Blossom is a painting that not only shows the welcoming of a new life on earth but that moment too when someone living in darkness tries to get out in the bright. When someone locked inside steps their feet outside into the world of nature. This was also the rebirth of Van Gogh, along with the birth of Van Gogh.

In conclusion, the Almond Blossom not only represents the birth of a new life, but it also represents a moment in the life of the artist when he did not feel the dark clutches of his tormented mind. It was the moment when he felt the cool breeze of wind on a sunny day, doing what he loved so dearly; painting flowers. 

This concludes the article. But why should your reading stop? Here are some amazing paintings by Van Gogh and their analysis to look into them deeply. Take a look;