Cypresses gained ground in Van Gogh’s work by late June 1889 when he resolved to devote one of his first series in Saint-Rémy to the towering trees. Distinctive for their rich impasto, his exuberant on-the-spot studies include the Met’s close-up vertical view of cypresses (49.30) and this majestic horizontal composition, which he illustrated in reed-pen drawings sent to his brother on July 2. Van Gogh regarded the present work as one of his “best” summer landscapes and was prompted that September to make two studio renditions: one on the same scale (National Gallery, London) and the other a smaller replica, intended as a gift for his mother and sister (private collection).
Wheat Field with Cypresses is Van Gogh’s initial study from nature of a composition that he repeated in three other versions: a large reed-pen drawing (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 47.1 x 62.3 cm), and two painted studio variants: one of the same format, now in the National Gallery, London, and a “reduction” (51.4 x 64.8 cm) made for the artist’s mother and sister, now in a private collection. The reed-pen drawing was sent to Theo on July 2nd, establishing a terminus ante quem for the initial painting. The dependence of the drawing on The Met’s painting is evidenced by the repetition of a stroke of green paint on the lower left of the wheat field that is not seen in the two other painted versions.
The Met’s painting support corresponds to a standard sized 30 figure, a format that Van Gogh used frequently. The canvas has the distinctive asymmetrical weave-count of toile ordinaire from the Paris firm of Tasset et L’Hôte that the artist requested in numerous letters to his brother Theo, and used almost exclusively from the summer of 1888 until his death in July 1890. The canvas arrived in rolls of 5 or 10 meters, and Van Gogh would cut and stretch his supports on stretching frames for painting, later removing them and rolling or stacking loose canvases to send to Theo. In recent years studies of Van Gogh’s canvas supports by the Thread Count Automation Project in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum have identified, using thread count and weave pattern, canvases cut from the same bolts. Analysis of the canvas of Wheat Field with Cypresses shows that it comes from the same bolt as 67 other paintings by the artist, dating from February 1888 to July 1890.
The canvas came pre-primed with a thin white ground, which has the character of a single layer (à grain); the white ground, with the crowns of the canvas weave visible as dark flecks, can be seen through areas of more open brushwork. The composition was laid in with fluid strokes of blue and green paint, glimpsed through gaps in the yellow strokes of the wheat field in the lower left foreground. A reserve was left for the cypress trees; the sky was painted slightly within the reserve, and then the edges of the trees were painted over the sky: this can be seen clearly in the X-radiograph (see Additional Images, fig. 1). Van Gogh seems to have worked from far to near, with each approaching area slightly overlapping its neighbor, but there is also a good deal of back and forth as he worked up the composition, returning, for example to pull a blue stroke—creating a deep furrow—through the deep impasto between the hills and field (see Additional Images, fig. 2). Van Gogh renders the scene using vigorous, thickly impastoed brushstrokes that vary greatly according to the features depicted: for example, broad, curving strokes were used in the sky (with the heaviest impasto in the white clouds); narrower, flickering strokes for the cypresses; addled impasto for the foliage of the olive tree in the field; rhythmic hatching to the wheat stalks (clotted impasto for the ears); and calligraphic loops for the grass in the foreground (see Additional Images, fig. 3). The varied handling in the paint is reflected in the different types of marks used for each area in the Van Gogh Museum reed-pen drawing. The painting was worked almost entirely wet-into-wet, with resulting intermingling of color, for example in the grass in the bottom right corner, where dark green strokes were added to pale green, and dark blue hatching was worked into yellow-green; likewise, the foreground poppies were added into the ocher-colored paint of the wheat stalks. The heavy impasto and vigorous handling of the Wheat Field with Cypresses is very similar to The Met’s Cypresses (49.30), one of two vertical studies of the trees painted out of doors in late June 1889 (the other is now in the Krӧller-Müller Museum, Otterlo).
There are light weave impressions in some areas of impastoed paint in the foreground (see Additional Images, fig. 4). Such weave impressions are commonly seen in Van Gogh’s paintings, resulting from rolling or stacking of the unstretched paintings, for storage or to send to Theo. The condition of Wheat Field with Cypresses is excellent. The canvas has been lined, a procedure anticipated by the artist due to the thick impasto on the thin canvas, and that may have been undertaken to secure an old tear in the left middle ground; the lining was done so skillfully that the rich topography of the paint was not impacted. The original tacking edges are intact. There are two damages on either side of the top of the larger cypress tree; these are significant because the profile of the tree has been retouched in a way that may not reflect its original appearance; traces of paint on the adjacent clouds may be fragments of the original profile. Minor losses are seen at the edges, and some of the sharp tips of impasto have broken in the past. Despite the heavy load of paint, the surface has little in the way of craquelure. There are localized cracks in the white paint of the swirling sky that are characteristic of the zinc white paint he favored (it is particularly good for the formation of impasto) but knew was slow to dry.
In 1987 the National Gallery painting was the subject of an article describing its recent technical examination and conservation treatment, and this clarified the relationship between the two size 30 works, which had sometimes been confused. In early September 1889, Van Gogh wrote to Theo promising to send “12 no. 30 canvases … but there will be almost the same ones twice, the study and the final painting.” Two paintings described as “Wheatfield and cypresses” were part of a shipment sent on September 28th. The National Gallery’s in-depth study supported the view that A Wheatfield, with Cypresses (NG3861) is “a studio repetition of the composition first painted in July.” The composition is treated in a more decorative and schematic manner than The Met’s painting, consistent with Van Gogh’s aspiration to create a distillation of his first impression, a tableau from his étude. Like The Met’s painting, the National Gallery version shows considerable variation in the thickness and texture of the paint but is much less heavily worked: “the rapidly achieved impasto is quite distinct from the more heavily wrought surfaces of the earlier Cypresses and A Cornfield [Wheatfield], with Cypresses.” X-radiographs of the two paintings show this difference very clearly; for example, the sky in The Met’s painting features varied brushwork and a dense application of paint in the clouds, while the sky in the National Gallery painting has a more overall and patterned appearance; additionally, as seen in the X-radiographs, in The Met’s painting the mountains and fields register very strongly relative to the cypresses; in the National Gallery painting there is much less contrast of absorption in these areas. Whereas there is no indication of hesitation or apparent changes in The Met’s painting, the National Gallery study presented analytical evidence of minor modifications to the compositional design of their painting to support their view that it was not the first of the two paintings, but rather that it evolved in the studio as a later version of the theme. The National Gallery painting also exhibits weave impressions from stacking or rolling; it is not surprising that these are much more extensive than those seen in the impasto of The Met’s painting, given that the latter had had three months longer to dry before shipping.
[Charlotte Hale 2016]
 See Vellekoop 2005, p. 316. See also Vellekoop, Zwikker, and Hageman 2007. Vellekoop, in both publications, identifies The Met’s painting as the model for the Van Gogh Museum drawing.  See Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 784.  Further evidence that Van Gogh painted Wheat Field with Cypresses out of doors, in front of the motif, was provided by a wheat husk found embedded in the paint: as described to the present writer by Hubertus von Sonnenberg, former Chairman of the Department of Paintings Conservation, who surface-cleaned the painting when it arrived at The Met in 1993.  See Ella Hendriks et al., "Automated Thread Counting and the Studio Practice Project," in Van Gogh’s Studio Practice, ed. Marije Vellekoop et al., Brussels, 2013, pp. 156–81.  Thread Count Automation Project (C. Richard Johnson Jr. of Cornell University; Don H. Johnson of Rice University; and Robert G. Erdman of the Rijksmuseum/University of Amsterdam), "Thread Count Report" for Wheat Field with Cypresses (F717), August 2011, and "Weave Match Report" (on the match clique of which the painting is a part), March 2016, Department of Paintings Conservation records, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Similar grounds, apparently applied à grain, are seen on many of Van Gogh’s paintings from 1888–90. Some examples in The Met’s collection are: First Steps, after Millet (64.165.2), Irises (58.187) and Vase of Roses (1993.400.5).  See Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 783. Like the wheat husk found in Wheat Field with Cypresses (see note 3 above), Cypresses bears material evidence of having been painted outside: tiny pieces of gravel are embedded in the paint at the bottom of the painting.  See Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 800, in which Van Gogh wrote: "I’ve redone the canvas of the Bedroom (F482, Art Institute of Chicago). That study is certainly one of the best – sooner or later it will definitely have to be lined. It was painted so quickly and dried in such a way that, as the thinner evaporated immediately, the painting doesn’t adhere at all firmly to the canvas. This will also be the case with other studies of mine that were painted very quickly and with a thick impasto. Besides, this thin canvas perishes after a while and can’t take a lot of impasto."  On Van Gogh’s use of zinc white see Muriel Geldof, Luc Megans, and Johanna Salvant, "Van Gogh’s palette in Arles, Saint-Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise,", in Vellekoop et al. 2013 (see note 4), p. 244. In the sky of the National Gallery version, where the zinc white is mixed with cobalt blue, these areas are free of cracks (cobalt pigment is known to act as a siccative for oil paint); the same appears to be the case in The Met’s painting: see Ashok Roy, in "Vincent van Gogh’s ‘A Cornfield, with Cypresses’," National Gallery Technical Bulletin 11 (1987), pp. 53, 58 n. 13.  John Leighton et al., "Vincent van Gogh’s ‘A Cornfield, with Cypresses’," National Gallery Technical Bulletin 11 (1987), pp. 42–59: www.nationalgallery.org.uk/upload/pdf/leighton_reeve_roy_white1987.pdf. See also Stein 2009, pp. 208, 210 n. 14.  See Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 800.  See Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 806.  Leighton et al. 1987, p. 44.  Ibid., p. 44.  Ibid., p. 53 for image of X-radiograph.  Ibid., p. 52–53.  Ibid., p. 46, fig. 5.
the artist's brother, Theo van Gogh, Paris (1889–d. 1891; sent to him by the artist on September 28, 1889); his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam, in trust for their son, Vincent Willem van Gogh (1891–1900; sold through Julien Leclercq, Paris, with seven other works for Fr 9,400 to Schuffenecker); Émile Schuffenecker (1900–at least 1901); Louis-Alexandre Berthier, prince de Wagram, Paris (ca. 1906–1910; sold, through Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, in November to Cassirer); [Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1910; sold in November or December 1910 to Mendelssohn]; Franz von Mendelssohn, Berlin (1910–d. 1935); von Mendelssohn family, Germany, later Switzerland (1935–51; sold through Fritz Nathan to Bührle); Emil Bührle, Zurich (1951–d. 1956); his son, Dieter Bührle, Zurich (1956–93; sold to MMA)
The Hague. Arts and Crafts. "Exhibition of the Paintings: Vincent van Gogh," October 17–December 1898, no. 10 (as "Poplars in a Corn Field," annotated "232").
Paris. Galerie Bernheim-Jeune. "Exposition Vincent van Gogh," March 15–31, 1901, no. 49 (as "Blés et Cyprès [temps de mistral]," lent by M. Emile Schuffenecker).
Paris. Galerie E. Druet. "Cinquante tableaux de Vincent van Gogh," November 8–20, 1909, no. 46 (as "Cyprès aux Blés d'or") [lent by Wagram; see Meedendorp 2003].
Berlin. Paul Cassirer. "III. Ausstellung," October 25–November 20, 1910, no. 28 (as "Das Getreidefeld," annotated "Kalligraphisch knorrige Wolken").
Milan. Palazzo Reale. "Van Gogh: Dipinti e disegni," February–April 1952, no. 107 (lent by Dr. E. Bührle, Zürich).
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Vincent van Gogh," October 9–November 21, 1954, not in catalogue.
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Sammlung Emil G. Bührle," June 7–end of September, 1958, no. 243 (as "Das gelbe Ährenfeld mit Zypressen").
Berlin. Schloss Charlottenburg. "Französische Malerei von Manet bis Matisse aus der Sammlung Emil B. Bührle/Zürich," October 5–November 23, 1958, no. 47 (as "Das gelbe Ährenfeld mit Zypressen").
Haus der Kunst München. "Hauptwerke der Sammlung Emil Georg Bührle - Zürich," December 5, 1958–February 15, 1959, no. 74 (as "Das Gelbe Ährenfeld mit Zypressen").
Paris. Petit Palais. "De Gericault à Matisse: Chefs-d'œuvre français des collections suisses," March–May 1959, no. 68 (as "Le champ de blé jaune," lent by the Collection Bührle, Zürich).
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "The Passionate Eye: Impressionist and Other Master Paintings from the Collection of Emil G. Bührle, Zürich," May 6–July 15, 1990, no. 62 (lent from a private collection).
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "The Passionate Eye: Impressionist and Other Master Paintings from the Collection of Emil G. Bührle, Zürich," August 3–October 14, 1990, no. 62.
Yokohama Museum of Art. "The Passionate Eye: Impressionist and Other Master Paintings from the Collection of Emil G. Bührle, Zürich," November 2, 1990–January 13, 1991, no. 62.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "The Passionate Eye: Impressionist and Other Master Paintings from the Collection of Emil G. Bührle, Zürich," February 1–April 9, 1991, no. 62.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings," October 12–December 31, 2005, no. 111.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009, online catalogue.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [June 25, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b644 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let783/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 596; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 783], mentions "12 no.30 canvases on the stocks," including this work.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [July 2, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b645 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let784/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 597; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 784], mentions that he is enclosing "ten or so drawings today, all after canvases on the go," including one after this work (F1538; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam); and describes "a canvas of cypresses with a few ears of wheat, poppies, a blue sky, which is like a multicolored Scottish plaid. This one, which is impasted like the Monticellis . . . ." (formerly associated with the present picture, and now with F620; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo).
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [September 5 and 6, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. nos. b652 a-d V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let800/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 604; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 800], states "At the end of the month you can rely on 12 no.30 canvases I dare say, but there will be almost the same ones twice, the study and the final painting," including the present picture among the studies and the National Gallery version among the final paintings.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [September 28, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b656 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let806/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 608; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 806], writes that he is sending Theo a package of canvases including two called "Wheatfield and cypresses" (this picture and F615, National Gallery, London); calls this painting one of his "best canvases"; mentions his reduced version of "Wheatfield with Cypresses".
Andries Bonger. Catalogue of Vincent van Gogh's estate (known as the Bonger list). late 1890, no. 232, as "Peupliers dans champs de blé /30/".
Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. Schilderijen van Leclercq [List of paintings with the dealer Julien Leclercq, Paris]. shortly after November 26, 1900, no. 232 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. b1533 V/1962], as "landschap met cypres" (beschadigd) ["landscape with cypress" (damaged)], priced at 1200 francs.
Ambroise Vollard, ed. Lettres de Vincent van Gogh à Émile Bernard. Paris, 1911, pl. 91, lists it incorrectly as "Le cyprès et l'arbre en fleurs," in the Bernheim-Jeune collection.
J.-B. de La Faille. L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné. Paris, 1928, vol. 1, p. 204, no. 717; vol. 2, pl. 169, as "Le champ de blé jaune," in the collection of F. von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Grunewald.
J.-B. de La Faille. Les Faux Van Gogh. Paris, 1930, p. 10, fig. 40, notes that a careful consideration of the background imagery and authentic facture of The Met's picture, F615 (National Gallery, London), and F1538 (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) demonstrates that F729, by contrast, is not from the hand of the master.
W. Scherjon. Catalogue des tableaux par Vincent van Gogh décrits dans ses lettres. Périodes: St. Rémy et Auvers sur Oise. Utrecht, 1932, p. 53, no. 48, ill.
W. Scherjon and Jos. De Gruyter. Vincent van Gogh's Great Period: Arles, St. Rémy and Auvers sur Oise (complete catalogue). Amsterdam, 1937, p. 243, St. Rémy no. 48, ill., as "Cornfield and Cypresses".
Michel Florisoone. Van Gogh. Paris, 1937, ill. pp. 50–51, as "Le champ de blé jaune," 1889, in the collection of F. von Mendelsshon-Bartholdy [sic].
J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh. London, , pp. 437, 560, 575, 589, ill., as "The Field of Yellow Corn," in the collection of Franz von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Grunewald; dates it October 1889.
Werner Weisbach. Vincent van Gogh: Kunst und Schicksal. Vol. 2, Basel, , p. 178.
Jean Leymarie. Van Gogh. [Paris], 1951, p. 125, calls it more somber and impastoed than the London version (F615).
Van Gogh: Dipinti e disegni. Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale. Milan, 1952, p. 53, no. 107, ill., as "Campo di grano con cipresso," painted in October 1889.
François Daulte. "Le Chef-d'oeuvre d'une vie: La Collection Buhrle." Connaissance des Arts 52 (June 1956), ill. p. 34, dates it October 1889 and notes that a letter from Vincent to Theo van Gogh shows that he wanted to represent the contrast between the somber cypresses and the yellow wheat field (quoting the letter without dating it or providing a citation).
John Rewald. Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin. 1st ed. New York, 1956, ill. p. 324 [3rd, rev. ed., 1978, ill. p. 303], as "Yellow Corn—Cypresses at Saint Rémy," in the collection of Emil Bührle, Zürich; dates it October 1889 [dates it June–July 1889 in the 3rd ed., 1978].
Marco Valsecchi. Van Gogh. Milan, 1957, colorpl. 23, as "The Yellow Cornfield, Saint Rémy," in a private collection; dates it October 1889.
Vincent van Gogh. The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh with Reproductions of All the Drawings in the Correspondence. Greenwich, Conn., 1958, under letter nos. 596–97, 604, 608.
Französische Malerei von Manet bis Matisse aus der Sammlung Emil G. Bührle / Zürich. Exh. cat., Nationalgalerie. Berlin, 1958, pp. 44–45, no. 47, ill., as painted in October 1889.
De Géricault à Matisse: Chefs-d'oeuvre français des collections suisses. Exh. cat., Petit Palais. Paris, 1959, unpaginated, no. 68, as painted in October 1889.
Alan Bowness. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, Amsterdam. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. [London], , p. 105, calls it the first of the four versions of this composition, probably painted in one day before the motif, followed by the drawing (F1538; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), then the "definitive" painting (F615; National Gallery, London), and last, the smaller replica (F743; private collection).
J.-B. de La Faille. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 247, 277, 283, 531, 639, no. 717, ill., as "Wheatfield with Cypress, at the Haute Galline, near Eygalières"; in a private collection, Switzerland; dates it June–July 1889.
Paolo Lecaldano. L'opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh e i suoi nessi grafici. Vol. 2, Da Arles a Auvers. repr. [1st ed., 1966]. Milan, 1971–77, pp. 218, 220, no. 669, ill., as "Campo di Grano (con cipressi e altri alberi)"; dates it June–July 1889.
Hope Benedict Werness. "Essays on van Gogh's Symbolism." PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1972, p. 219 n. 17, p. 220 n. 27, discusses the possible symbolism of cypresses and wheat fields in relation to this picture, among others.
Jan Hulsker. The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1977]. New York, 1980, pp. 400, 406, no. 1756, ill., believes the London picture (F615) was painted first, dating it, The Met's picture, and the Amsterdam drawing (F1538) to late June 1889, and the smaller painting (F743) to September 1889.
Ronald Pickvance The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers. New York, 1986, pp. 34, 110, 133, 298, ill. p. 299, calls this the "first painting of the motif . . . completed in late June"; notes that the large drawing (F1538) was made after it and sent to Theo on July 2nd and mentioned in that letter; notes that the London picture, also a size thirty canvas, is a copy of The Met's picture made in early September and that both were sent to Theo on September 28 and that he sent a reduction (F743) closely tied to The Met's version on December 7; calls Van Gogh's discovery of the cypresses the "cardinal event of June 1889," noting that the series of cypress canvases was fully launched at the end of June, with the two upright canvases (The Met, 49.30; F620) and this horizontally contrasting "Wheat Field with Cypresses"; observes that they are his "most heavily impastoed paintings," referring to their "near-bas-relief articulation of textures".
John Leighton in "Vincent van Gogh's 'A Cornfield, with Cypresses'." National Gallery Technical Bulletin 11 (1987), pp. 42–45, fig. 1, as "A Cornfield, with Cypresses", in a private collection, Switzerland; identifies this picture as the one mentioned in Van Gogh's letter of July 2, 1889, and calls it the first version of the subject, painted in early July; notes that it has the same dense impasto as two paintings of cypresses (The Met, 49.30, and Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo) completed just prior to it; calls the London picture a studio repetition of The Met's picture with rapidly achieved impasto, compared to the "heavily wrought surface" of The Met's version; notes the modifications and simplifications to the composition between the two versions as Van Gogh "sought to translate a heavily worked study after nature into a more concise and powerful pictorial statement"; states that both were sent to Theo on September 28, 1889 [Ashok Roy, in the same article, pp. 50–58, identifies pigments and describes paint application of the National Gallery painting; presents analytical evidence of minor modifications to the compositional design that support the view that it was not the first of the two paintings, but rather that it evolved in the studio as the later version of the theme].
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin: The Reception of Van Gogh in Germany from 1901 to 1914. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1988, pp. 36, 115, 148, 155–56, ill., as "Wheatfield with cypress, at the Haute Galline, near Eyglières"; discusses its early provenance and exhibition history around 1910.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. "Van Gogh Fakes: The Wacker Affair, with an Illustrated Catalogue of the Forgeries." Simiolus 19, no. 4 (1989), p. 310, ill., cites a forged Van Gogh (F729) painted after a detail of this work while it was in the Mendelssohn collection, Berlin.
Evert van Uitert et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam. Milan, 1990, p. 205, fig. 87c, note that in The Met’s picture, dating from July, Van Gogh eventually achieved the effect of conciseness he felt was missing from his June "Wheat Field with Cypress" (F719) and that the dark cypresses are now the main theme; note that the “spontaneous effect of this study from nature” lacked “a grander effect of a stylized whole,” and Van Gogh corrected this failing in his drawing based on the painting and in September, when he completed the mature tableau now in London, calling it a “tightly-knit synthesis of the landscape of Provence”; note that the smaller copy made for his mother and sister indicates that he considered it one of his best works.
Charles S. Moffett inThe Passionate Eye: Impressionist and Other Master Paintings from the Collection of Emil G. Bührle, Zürich. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. Zürich, 1990, p. 241, no. 62, ill. (color, overall and detail), discusses the significance of wheat fields and cypresses to the artist in relation to the picture, quoting his letters.
Roland Dorn inVincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, p. 172.
Ronald Pickvance inVincent van Gogh: Drawings. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo. Milan, 1990, p. 286.
Margrit Hahnloser-Ingold inThe Passionate Eye: Impressionist and Other Master Paintings from the Collection of Emil G. Bührle, Zürich. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. Zürich, 1990, p. 22, ill. p. 28 (installation photo), reproduces a photograph showing this picture in Bührle's home in Zürich.
Jonathan Phillips. "Learning from Van Gogh." American Artist 54 (October 1990), pp. 73–74, ill. p. 38 (color).
Jan Hulsker. Vincent and Theo van Gogh: A Dual Biography. Ed. James M. Miller. Trans. and rev. ed. [1st ed. Weesp, Holland, 1985]. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1990, p. 360, states that this picture and F615 (National Gallery, London) are variations on F719 (Narodni Gallery, Prague); argues that it is difficult to determine whether The Met's picture preceded F615.
Stanley David Gedzelman. "The Meteorological Odyssey of Vincent van Gogh." Leonardo 23, no. 1 (1990), p. 110, notes that it depicts wave clouds transported by a south or southwest wind and that, based on meteorological records, it was probably produced during "partly clear interludes around the two rather extended periods of overcast skies at Saint-Rémy from 10–14 June and 18–20 June".
Nicole Dubreuil-Blondin. "L'entrepreneur et les impressionnistes." RACAR 17, no. 2 (1990), p. 182, dates it 1888.
Richard Kendall. "Patronage and the Modern Movement: The E.G. Bührle Collection." Apollo 133 (February 1991), pp. 122–23, fig. 1.
J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh, The Complete Works on Paper: Catalogue Raisonné. Ed. Alan Wofsy. Vol. 1, Revised, supplemented ed. [1st ed., Paris, 1928]. San Francisco, 1992, p. 402, states that although the drawing (F1538; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) seems to be done after this painting, it can also be linked to F615 and F743 and dated to June or early July 1889.
Jan Hulsker. Vincent van Gogh: A Guide to His Work and Letters. Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 41, 55, 61, 76, identifies this work as being mentioned in Van Gogh's September 28 letter to Theo, but not in his July 2 letter [see Van Gogh, July 2, 1889], and notes that it was among those pictures dispatched to Theo.
John House. "Exhibition Reviews, New York: The New Nineteenth-Century European Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum." Burlington Magazine 135 (December 1993), p. 856, calls it "seemingly the first and primary version of the subject" and "a painting of electric intensity and bravura, which makes even the version in the National Gallery, London, seem a little tempered and pedestrian".
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1992–1993." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 51 (Fall 1993), pp. [2-3], 50–51, ill. p. 51 (color) and on front cover (color detail), calls it "unquestionably the first" version, contrasting its immediacy to the greater refinement and control of the later versions.
Michael Kimmelman. "Annenberg Donates a Van Gogh to the Met." New York Times (May 25, 1993), p. C13, ill. p. A1, states that it is "probably" the first in the series of this subject and notes that it had been exhibited in the United States only once before joining The Met's collection.
Gary Tinterow et al. The New Nineteenth-Century European Paintings and Sculpture Galleries. New York, 1993, p. 84, ill. (color).
Ann Hoenigswald. "Reworking Finished Paintings, Gauguin and Van Gogh: A Comparison." Van Gogh: The Songlines of Legend. Ed. Felicity St. John Moore. Melbourne, , p. 43, calls it "Cornfield, with Cypresses"; implies that it is the first version, stating that repetitions and copies or reductions were made after it; uses this picture to illustrate Van Gogh's working process, arguing that he worked out his compositions primarily through painting rather than drawing.
Thomas Noll. "Der große Sämann": Zur Sinnbildlichkeit in der Kunst von Vincent van Gogh. Worms, 1994, p. 140.
"America's Top 100 Collectors." Art and Antiques Ed. Patrick Pacheco. (March 1994), p. 48, mentions it as a recent purchase and gift to The Met by Walter H. Annenberg.
"Principales acquisitions des musées en 1993." Gazette des beaux-arts 123 (March 1994), pp. 94–95, fig. 289, calls it the first version.
Matthias Arnold. Vincent van Gogh: Werk und Wirkung. Munich, 1995, pp. 484, 549, calls it probably the first version done directly from nature; states that it is plausible that the London picture, with its certain stylistic changes from The Met's work, has a later date of fall 1889.
Elizabeth Nicoline Heenk. "Vincent van Gogh's Drawings: An Analysis of Their Production and Uses." PhD diss., Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 1995, p. 186, states that the drawing F1538 (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) was made after this painting.
Jan Hulsker. The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. rev. ed. Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 400, 496, no. 1756, ill. p. 406, notes that according to letters 596 and 597, the studies of cypresses Van Gogh was working on in the last days of June must have included the canvas always referred to in later letters as Wheat Field with Cypresses; calls The Met's picture “the almost identical replica” after the London canvas (1755) and dates both to June, noting that there is also a smaller version that he made for his mother and sister in September (1790).
Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Art News 97 (May 1998), p. 148.
Judith H. Dobrzynski. "Tracing a van Gogh Treasured by the Met." New York Times (February 11, 1998), p. E3, ill. p. E1 (color), traces the wartime provenance of the painting.
Ronald Pickvance. Van Gogh. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2000, pp. 35, 39, 90, 95, cites Van Gogh's mention of this work in his letter of July 2, 1889 and the London picture as a September duplicate of one of his summer pictures.
Chris Stolwijk and Han Veenenbos. The Account Book of Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Amsterdam, 2002, pp. 144, 187, ill., identify it as one of eight works sold by Van Gogh-Bonger through Julien Leclercq, Paris, to Émile Schuffenecker, for which she recorded partial payment of 1,914 guilders (4,000 francs) in January 1901; note that the total amount of the sale was 9,400 francs, but that it is unclear whether Schuffenecker ever paid the remainder.
Dorothee Hansen inVan Gogh: "Fields". The "Field with Poppies" and the Artists' Dispute. Ed. Wulf Herzogenrath and Dorothee Hansen. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Bremen. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany, 2002, p. 86, ill. p. 39 (color), calls it "Wheat Field with Cypresses at the Haute Galline near Eygalières, étude"; confuses a reference to Pickvance's (1990) identification of a drawing based on the painting.
Pierre Cabanne. Van Gogh. Paris, 2002, pp. 170–71, ill (color), erroneously as still in a private collection, Zürich.
Gary Tinterow. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2002–2003." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Fall 2003), p. 35.
Teio Meedendorp inThe Paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Ed. Toos van Kooten and Mieke Rijnders. Otterlo, 2003, pp. 416, 418–19 nn. 3, 4, 10, 17–19, notes ownership of the painting by Emile Schuffenecker and recounts its exhibition history with Bernheim-Jeune in early 1901; traces the picture's ownership by the fourth Prince of Wagram (here identified as Philippe Alexandre Berthier), stating that he lent it to Druet's exhibition in 1909 and that Cassirer acquired the picture in 1910 "from Wagram's collection, probably during the exhibition in his own gallery, through Galerie Barbazanges"
Marije Vellekoop inVincent van Gogh: The Drawings. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. New York, 2005, pp. 312, 314, 316, 318–19, no. 111, ill. (color), calls it the model for the drawing "Wheat Field with Cypresses" (late June–July 2, 1889, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) and reviews the literature on the chronology of the paintings in relationship to the drawing.
Martin Bailey inVan Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collectors. Exh. cat., Compton Verney, Warwickshire. Edinburgh, 2006, p. 82, calls it the first version and states that the London picture was probably executed in the artist's studio in September.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. By Appointment Only: Cézanne, Van Gogh and Some Secrets of Art Dealing. English ed. London, 2006, p. 70, ill. p. 102 (color), as "Wheat Field with Cypress"; discusses its exhibition at Cassirer's (see Berlin 1910); identifies it as the model for Otto Wacker's forged Van Gogh (F729), suggesting that Wacker had access to it in the von Mendelssohn collection, Berlin.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, p. 24, fig. 15 [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, p. 20, fig. 15].
Stefan Koldehoff inVan Gogh and Expressionism. Ed. Jill Lloyd and Michael Peppiatt. Exh. cat., Neue Galerie, New York. Ostfildern, 2007, p. 171, states that Cassirer sold this painting to Marie Clara and Franz von Mendelssohn, Berlin, in November or December 1910.
Marije Vellekoop, and Roelie Zwikker, with the assistance of Monique Hageman. Vincent van Gogh, Drawings. Vol. 4, Arles, Saint-Rémy & Auvers-sur-Oise, 1888–90. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 2007, part 1, pp. 237, 241, fig. 366d (color), identify the drawing (F1538, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) as one of ten extant sheets that Van Gogh sent to Theo on July 2, observing that the paper was unique to this group of works and agreeing with Bowness (1968) and Pickvance (1986 and 1990) that The Met's painting was the model; note that Van Gogh gave each element its own characteristic lines that are closely related to the type of brushwork in the painting and that the inks (applied over pencil underdrawing) have faded.
Susan Alyson Stein inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 14 (installation view, color), 148, notes that he later repeated the composition in two variants and quotes the artist stating that it and the two paintings of cypresses (The Met 49.30 and Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo) were to form part of a series to be "the contrast and yet equivalent" of the Arles sunflower pictures.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 170–71, 259, no. 159, ill. (color and black and white).
Marije Vellekoop inVan Gogh: Heartfelt Lines. Ed. Klaus Albrecht Schröder et al. Exh. cat., Albertina, Vienna. Cologne, 2008, pp. 60–62, 67 n. 1, p. 449, ill. (color).
Denise Willemstein inVan Gogh: Heartfelt Lines. Ed. Klaus Albrecht Schröder et al. Exh. cat., Albertina, Vienna. Cologne, 2008, pp. 374, 454, ill. (color), dates it to early June 1889; notes that the stylization found in it and the drawing after it came out of Van Gogh's dialogue with Gauguin.
Karen Wilkin. "Homage at the Metropolitan." New Criterion 27 (December 2008), p. 5.
Seraina Werthemann and Nina Zimmer inVincent van Gogh—Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel. Ostfildern, 2009, pp. 110, 241, fig. 95 (color), note that he only painted this subject once he was allowed to go beyond the asylum grounds.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. ix, 206–11, no. 39, ill. (color), identifies it with the work described by Vincent in his letter to Theo of July 2, 1889, dating the drawing (F1538) soon after, and the two oil variants (F615, F743) to the following September; notes that the latter two "respect his initial conception, albeit without rivaling the exuberant immediacy captured [in The Met's picture]," which she calls "painted with unhesitating gusto," adding that x-radiographs show no changes during the course of execution; describes the technique, contrasting it to that of the two later versions; states that Van Gogh "never [again] exploited impasto with the same unbridled richness that so palpably links the 'Cypresses' in vertical format (The Met, 49.30; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo) and this majestic, horizontal view".
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, p. 218.
Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 5, pp. 41, 44, fig. 8 (color), under letter no. 783, pp. 49, 51, fig. 22 (color), under letter no. 784, pp. 82, 84, fig. 11 (color), under letter no. 800, p. 106, fig. 2 (color), under letter no. 806.
Catherine Restrepo. "Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase: Van Gogh's 'Unexpected' Painting." Providence College Art Journal 2012, no. 1 (2012), p. 29, fig. 4 (color).
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France. Complete Paintings 1886–1890. London, 2013, p. 27, 211, 293, 312–15, 319, 322, 343, 346, ill. (color) [1st German ed., 2009], calls it "The Cypress in the Cornfield" and "Wheatfield with Cypress"; provides a schematic outline of the early provenance and exhibition history of the painting, with a few discrepancies: states that it was sold to Amédée Schuffenecker, although notes that it was lent to Paris 1901 by E. Schuffenecker; lists only Robert von Mendelssohn, rather than the von Mendelssohn family, as heirs to the picture; states that Bührle acquired it in 1953, not 1951.
Peter Schjeldahl. "A Visit with Vincent." The New Yorker. August 12, 2014, unpaginated, ill. (color) [online only: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/visit-vincent].
Griselda Pollock inVan Gogh. London, 2015, p. 46, colorpl. 110.
Edwin Mullins. Van Gogh: The Asylum Year. London, 2015, ill. p. 88 (color), illustrates The Met's picture but refers only to the London picture, conflating it both with the first version and with the smaller repetition; erroneously states the subject was viewed from his bedroom window.
Stefan Koldehoff. Ich und van Gogh: Bilder, Sammler und ihre abenteuerlichen Geschichten. Berlin, 2015, pp. 141, 185, discusses the Annenbergs' partial purchase of the painting, with The Met, from Emil Bührle, as well as its earlier history in the Mendelssohn family collection.
Sjraar van Heugten inVan Gogh and Nature. Exh. cat., Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2015, pp. 186, 229–30 n. 61, calls it the "first variant" of the subject; states that the order of its repetitions was the drawing (F1538, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), followed by the London picture (F615), followed by the small replica (F743, private collection) later that year; discusses the artist's attraction to the subjects of wheat fields and cypresses.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 448, no. 400, ill. pp. 404, 448 (color).
James Ottar Grundvig. Breaking Van Gogh: Saint-Rémy, Forgery, and the $95 Million Fake at the Met. New York, 2016, pp. ix–261, outlines a theory purporting that The Met's picture is a forgery.
Van Gogh made four versions of this composition in Saint-Rémy. The present work, his initial study from nature, was painted in late June or the first days of July 1889. He made a drawing after it, which he sent to his brother on July 2 (F1538; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), and painted two studio renditions in September: one on the same scale (F615; National Gallery, London) and a smaller version (F743; private collection). He sent The Met and National Gallery pictures to his brother Theo on September 28, 1889, and the smaller version, intended for his mother and sister, on December 6, 1889. The Met’s picture remained in the artist’s estate until 1900, when it was sold by his sister-in-law to the French artist Émile Schuffenecker.
The following letters in the Van Gogh correspondence, written between September 19 and December 7, 1889, do not mention The Met's picture, only the small version (or “reduction”) of the composition (F743): Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter nos. 803, 811, 812, and 824 (Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter nos. 606, 612, W15, and 618).
There exists a Eugène Druet photograph of The Met's picture (pl. 75, no. 42478, ca. 1900–1910, collection Le fonds Druet-Vizzavona, Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Fort de Saint-Cyr, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France) probably taken during the Van Gogh exhibition at Druet in Paris in 1909.
Artist: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)Date: ca. July 15, 1888Medium: Reed pen, quill, and ink over chalk on wove paper (backed with wove paper)Accession: 48.190.1On view in:Not on view
Artist: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)Date: September 1889Medium: Oil color and essence over black chalk on pink laid ("Ingres") paperAccession: 48.190.2On view in:Not on view