Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890)
Oil on canvas
36 3/4 x 29 1/8 in. (93.4 x 74 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1949 (49.30)
Cypresses was painted in late June 1889, shortly after Van Gogh began his yearlong voluntary stay as a patient in the asylum in Saint-Rémy. The subject, which he found "as beautiful of line and proportion as an Egyptian obelisk," both captivated and challenged the artist: "It is a splash of black in a sunny landscape, but it is one of the most interesting black notes, and the most difficult to hit off exactly that I can imagine." Van Gogh's initial fascination with cypresses resulted in three paintings: two showing the "big and massive trees" at close range, in vertical format (this and one in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), and a majestic horizontal view, Wheat Field with Cypresses (1993.132), which he later repeated in two variants.