Almost every painting by Vincent Van Gogh has acquired abundant fame. But his painting “Wheatfield with Crows” has acquired a special status, mostly because of the intended meaning and its significance in the artist’s life. It is said to be the last painting Van Gogh made, right before killing himself.
But was it really his last painting? Not exactly. In fact, Van Gogh made many paintings after painting this one, but certainly, it was one of his last paintings. Despite not being his final painting, “Wheatfield with Crows” deserves to be the artist’s final painting as it shows the death of his soul.
“Wheatfield with Crows” was painted in July of 1890. Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890. So it is normal for people to think that this painting was his last. In reality, “Tree Roots” was the final painting. It is estimated that “Wheatfield with Crows” was painted on 10th July, 1890.
About the Painting
“Wheatfield with Crows” is a double-square painting; it is made by combining two square canvases. This attribute gives it a wide appearance and adds to the dramatic effect of the panoramic view. The medium of the painting is oil on canvas and it is almost 20 by 41 inches in size. The painting is currently housed at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It was stolen in 1991 and was damaged in the process.
Emotions of the Painting
What does this painting make you think at first glance? We get a conflict of emotions; happiness and sadness, hope and despair, every contrasting emotion clashing together. The idea behind the painting was precisely to evoke such feelings.
The beautiful blue sky and the vibrant yellow wheatfield represent happiness and hope, while the dark crows and the storm represent turmoil, pain, and despair.
The location depicted in the painting is an actual place. The wheatfield that you see here is the very place where Van Gogh took his life. So it is not just a random place that Van Gogh liked and decided to paint it. This place shows a deep significance for the artist.
The road fades into the sky, flanked by the wheatfield and covered by the dark crows overhead. There is an ominous feeling that overcomes the viewer when they look at the painting. There are some intricate subtleties to this painting that can go unnoticed.
There is a storm shown in the painting. Notice how the wheatfield is moving way towards the right side of the canvas, along with the murder of the crows! One can almost feel what it must feel standing in the middle of the path, feeling the strong wind and hearing the caws of the crows.
Now it is certain that there was no storm when the artist was painting this painting. The storm was added later to show his mental turmoil. Van Gogh wanted to convey his emotions through these paintings. The waves of emotions that coursed through his head were unbearable.
The Yellow and Blue
If you have seen a lot of Van Gogh’s paintings, it is clear to note how much the artist loved the use of blue and yellow in his scenes. In this painting, the combination of blue and yellow is to show the happiness inside the artist, or what was left of it.
In a letter to his brother, Van Gogh wrote that these scenes are the reason why he considers the countryside to be enriching and “fortifying.” The yellow colors of the wheatfield and the blue sky above it made Van Gogh very happy. Do note that he also made another painting named “Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds” wherein the fields are green in color. This wheatfield was special.
The True Meaning of the Painting
So what was Van Gogh trying to convey through this painting? And did we call it his last painting, right after which his soul died? Let’s look at the true meaning of the painting after assembling every aspect and element of it.
The crows in the painting are not signifying any dark or ill omen. Van Gogh never considered dying as something negative. In fact, he always wanted to reach the stars and considered dying by old age to be a “slow journey to the stars.”
The crows here are used to show Van Gogh’s soul. In his letters, Van Gogh considered himself a “bird in a cage.” In the painting “Wheatfield with Crows,” the birds are free and moving toward the endless stretch of the blue and yellow world.
The painting shows a path. This path was not added by Van Gogh. It actually exists. But the way the path just leads to infinity, without any end shows that this road is the road to eternity. The white spots on the sky are the clouds, while the gradual darkness from the top shows that it was painted during dusk. The sunset on Van Gogh’s life.
Van Gogh made this painting to show loneliness and sadness. It is easy to see the darkness taking over in the beautiful mix of blue and yellow. You can just stand there, on the road and feel the whistling wind and the howl of your emptiness.
The panoramic view of the field adds to the effect of loneliness. The large canvas shows a large part of the sky and the wheatfield, enhancing the feeling of loneliness.
While this painting was not the last painting Van Gogh created, he certainly knew what he was going to do while painting it.
The painting “Wheatfield with Crows” by Van Gogh represents the artist’s mental state at the end of his life. He wanted to show the turmoil in his life, and where he wanted to be. He wanted to convey his freed soul through the crows in the painting, while the blues and yellows represent the comforting days he lived in the countryside.
The darkening sky and the storm show the turbulence and turmoil of his life. He was sad, lonely, and depressed. He could not just stand where he was standing and watch the field. Van Gogh decided to walk the path and move to eternity. The path that you see in this painting led Van Gogh to his death, to his freedom.
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