Cypresses was painted in late June 1889, shortly after Van Gogh began his yearlong stay at the asylum in Saint-Rémy. The subject, which he found "beautiful as regards lines and proportions, like an Egyptian obelisk," both captivated and challenged the artist: "It’s the dark patch in a sun-drenched landscape, but it’s one of the most interesting dark notes, the most difficult to hit off exactly that I can imagine." One of two close-up views of the "very tall and massive" trees in a vertical format (the other is in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), Cypresses was shown in the 1890 Salon des Indépendants.
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Artist:Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:36 3/4 x 29 1/8 in. (93.4 x 74 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1949
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 (1891–95; consigned by June 1895 to Lucien Moline (Galerie Laffitte), Paris; sold with six other paintings for fl. 384 through Moline to an unidentified dealer; Moline sent a check on December 20 and Van Gogh-Bonger recorded it in her account book on December 23); [art dealer, Paris, from 1895]; Julien Leclercq, Paris (1901; purchased February 12 for Fr 600; d. October 1901); his widow, Fanny Leclercq, Paris (1901; sold before December to Fabre); Maurice Fabre, Paris and Gasparets (1901–8); sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 16, 1908, no. 25, for Fr 8,100; Fritz Meyer-Fierz, Zürich (bought in Paris; May 1908–d. 1917); his heirs (1917–23; sold on October 27, 1923, to Thannhauser); [Justin K. Thannhauser, Munich and Berlin, 1923–31; stock no. 710; half share with his brother-in-law, Bruno Levi; sold on December 24, 1931, along with a Cézanne landscape and a Chagall "Violinist", for a total of 310,000 marks, to Schocken]; Salman Schocken, Berlin [until 1934], Jerusalem [1934–40], New York [from 1940] (1931–49; consigned for sale between 1941 and 1949 to Justin K. Thannhauser, New York; stock no. 2394; sold in March 1949 through Thannhauser to The Met)
Pavillon de la Ville de Paris. "Salon des Indépendants (6e exposition)," March 20–April 27, 1890, no. 832 (as "Le cyprès").
Pavillon de la Ville de Paris. "Salon des Indépendants (7me exposition)," March 20–April 27, 1891, no. 1195 (as "Cyprès").
Paris. Galerie Bernheim-Jeune. "Exposition Vincent van Gogh," March 15–31, 1901, no. 35 (as "Cyprès en Provence," lent by M. Julien Leclercq).
Paris. Galerie E. Druet. "Quelques oeuvres de Vincent van Gogh," January 6–18, 1908, no. 4 (as "Cyprès," lent by M.M. Fabre) [see La Faille 1939 and La Faille 1970].
Künstlerhaus Zürich. "Französische Impressionisten," October 1–November 1, 1908, no. 59 (as "Cypressen," lent by a Frankfurt, Paris, or Zürich private collection).
Cologne. Städtische Ausstellungshalle. "Internationale Kunstausstellung des Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler," May 25–September 30, 1912, no. 108 (lent by Fritz Meyer, Zürich).
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Ausstellung aus Zürcher Privatsammlungen," November 1–December 6, 1914, no. 54.
Kunsthalle Basel. "Vincent van Gogh," March 27–April 21, 1924, no. 60 (lent by a private collection, Lucerne).
Berliner Künstlerhaus. "Erste Sonderausstellung in Berlin," January 9–mid-February 1927, no. 119 [the exhibition was organized by the Galerien Thannhauser; see Meier-Graefe 1927].
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Vincent van Gogh: l'époque française," June 20–July 2, 1927, no catalogue [see La Faille 1928].
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh," November 7–December 7, 1929, no. 85 (lent by Justin Thannhauser, Berlin).
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Work by Vincent van Gogh," November 3–December 12, 1948, no. 18 (lent anonymously).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings," October 21, 1949–January 15, 1950, no. 112.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings," February 1–April 15, 1950, no. 112.
Hempstead, N. Y. Hofstra College. "Metropolitan Museum Masterpieces," June 26–September 1, 1952, no. 15.
West Palm Beach, Fla. Norton Gallery and School of Art. "French Painting—David to Cézanne," February 4–March 1, 1953, no. 26.
Coral Gables, Fla. Lowe Gallery. "French Painting—David to Cézanne," March 11–31, 1953, no. 26.
Sarasota, Fla. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. "Directors' Choice," February 6–March 4, 1955, no. 26.
Bronx County Courthouse. "Paintings from the Metropolitan, Pinturas del Metropolitano," May 12–June 13, 1971, no. 18.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh as Critic and Self-Critic," October 30, 1973–January 6, 1974, no. 7.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Impressionist Epoch," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers," November 25, 1986–March 22, 1987, no. 15.
Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh. "Vincent van Gogh: Paintings," March 30–July 29, 1990, no. 90.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South," September 22, 2001–January 13, 2002, no. 117.
Amsterdam. Van Gogh Museum. "Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South," February 9–June 2, 2002, no. 117.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh: The Drawings," October 12–December 31, 2005, no. 109.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 109.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
New Haven. Yale University Art Gallery. "Van Gogh's Cypresses and The Starry Night: Visions of Saint-Rémy," June 15–September 7, 2008, no catalogue.
Kunstmuseum Basel. "Vincent van Gogh—Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes," April 26–September 27, 2009, no. 50.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters," January 23–April 18, 2010, no. 133.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art—Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013, no. 94.
Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art—Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8–May 9, 2013, no. 94.
Williamstown, Mass. Clark Art Institute. "Van Gogh and Nature," June 14–September 13, 2015, no. 39.
Tokyo. Ueno Royal Museum. "Vincent van Gogh: Under the Spell of the Hague School and Impressionism," October 11, 2019–January 13, 2020, no. 76.
Kobe. Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art. "Vincent van Gogh: Under the Spell of the Hague School and Impressionism," January 25–March 29, 2020, no. 76.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. "Van Gogh's Cypresses," May 22–August 27, 2023, unnumbered cat.
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], discusses two studies of cypresses that he has been working on and includes a sketch of this painting in the letter (JH1750), stating that he believes it will turn out to be the better of the two, and adding that he will send a further drawing of the painting.
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 (F1525; Brooklyn Museum).
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 off to Theo that day a "Study of cypresses" along with several other canvases.
Mario Varvara. "Les 'Indépendants'." Ecrits pour l'art (1890), p. 293, describes it as having a “dureté splendide” (splendid severity).
Theo van Gogh. List of ten paintings intended for exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants of 1890. [ca. February 24–March 20, 1890] [inscribed on back of letter from Dr. Peyron to Theo van Gogh, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, February 24, 1890; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b1062 V/1962; published in Dijk 2017, p. 148, fig. 56], includes it at the top of the list and annotates it as no. 1.
Theo van Gogh. Letter to his brother Vincent. March 19, 1890 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b756 V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let858/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. T29; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 858], remarks that his brother's paintings, including this work, are "well placed and look very well" at the exhibition of the Indépendants.
Paul Bluysen. "Au jour le jour: L’exposition des ‘artistes indépendants’." La République Française (March 21, 1890), p. 3, notes its title in the catalogue but describes the paintings displayed as unrecognizable “arabesques rouges, bleues, vertes” (red, blue, and green arabesques) that the artist had “placardées sur des panneaux” (plastered on panels).
Georges Lecomte. "L'Exposition des Néo-Impressionnistes: Pavillon de la ville de Paris." Art et critique 2 (March 29, 1890), p. 205, notes the picture's "fonds violets" (purple backgrounds).
J[ulien]. L[eclercq]. "Aux Indépendants." Mercure de France (May 1, 1890), pp. 175–76, cites "ce cyprès quasi mythologique aux reflets de métal, comme un dragon fabuleux" (this quasi-mythological cypress with its glints of metal, like a fabulous dragon) as an example of the artist's depictions of objects from nature as reflections of his own impassioned temperament.
Jules Christophe. "Le Néo-Impressionnisme à l'Exposition des Artistes Indépendants (Note)." Journal des artistes 10 (April 12, 1891), p. 100, notes it was exhibited in the last room of the exhibition.
Maurevert. "Chronique: Aux 'Indépendants'." La Nation 8 (April 24, 1891), p. 2, states that the painting is far from Delacroix's work and describes the cypresses as "révulsés dressant vers ces ciels leurs dimentielles flames, spontanés, flambois de vingt villes punies d'un inégalable forfait" (turned back in their orbit, raising their exaggerated flames toward these skies, spontaneously, the blaze of twenty cities punished for an incomparable crime); calls this kind of madness genius and compares it to the literary efforts of the comte de Lautréamont.
Adolph Retté. "Septième exposition des artistes indépendants: Notes cursives." L’ermitage (May 1891), p. 301, praises the artist’s work, compares him to Delacroix, and encourages readers to look at several paintings above all, including this one.
Lucien Moline. Letter to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. June 14, 1895 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b1312 V/1962], states that a "marchand très aventureux" has offered to purchase this painting and five others by Van Gogh; after the cost of the frames and Moline's commission are deducted the net price will be 800 francs.
Lucien Moline. Letter to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. December 20, 1895 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b1314 V/1962], writes that he is enclosing a check for 384 guilders, the price of all seven paintings that Johanna consigned to him [the six mentioned in his letter of June 14, 1895 and MMA 1995.535]; adds that the paintings were sold to a dealer.
Julien Leclercq. Letter to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. February 20, 1901 [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b4136 V/1984], states that he purchased this painting eight days ago for 600 francs.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Kunst. Stuttgart, 1904, vol. 1, pp. 119–20 n. 1, states that Maurice Fabre owns it.
Marius-Ary Leblond. "Les Expositions: Van Gogh (aux galeries Bernheim et Druet)." La Grande Revue (January 25, 1908), p. 382, lists it among the works that showcase the style van Gogh developed in the south of France, characterized by decorative contours and thick paint that “faisant circuler la couleur à la surface de la toile selon des rythmes pittoresques et pathétiques d’une orchestration puissante” (make the color circulate on the surface of the canvas according to picturesque and poignant rhythms of a powerful orchestration).
Charles Morice. "Art moderne." Mercure de France 71 (February 16, 1908), p. 725, lists it among “des plus belles, des plus célèbres toiles de Van Gogh” (the most beautiful and the most famous paintings by Van Gogh), which make the exhibition at Druet’s gallery superior to the concurrent show at Bernheim-Jeune.
R. Meyer-Riefstahl. "Vincent van Gogh—I." Burlington Magazine 18 (November 1910), ill. p. 96.
Shirakaba 3 (January 1912), ill. between pp. 68 and 69.
Paul Ferd. Schmidt. "Die Internationale Ausstellung des Sonderbunds in Köln 1912." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 23 (July 1912), fig. 1.
Camera Work special no. (June 1913), pl. IV.
Max Deri. Die Malerei im XIX. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1920, vol. 1, p. 227; vol. 2, pl. 57, erroneously dates it 1890.
Curt Glaser. Vincent van Gogh. Leipzig, 1921, pl. 16.
Wissen und Leben 17 (October 1, 1923), ill. opposite p. 1, as in a Zürich private collection.
Roch Grey. Vincent van Gogh. Rome, 1924, p. 15, ill.
Max Osborn. "Klassiker der französischen Moderne die Galerien Thannhauser im Berliner Künstlerhaus." Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration 59 (March 1927), p. 337, ill. p. 336.
Julius Meier-Graefe. "Die Franzosen in Berlin." Der Cicerone 19 (January 1927), ill. p. 54, notes that Berlin 1927 was organized by the Galerien Thannhauser and took place in the Berliner Künstlerhaus.
J.-B. de La Faille. "Vincent van Gogh." L'art vivant 3 (August 1, 1927), ill. p. 626.
Florent Fels. Vincent van Gogh. Paris, 1928, ill. (color, frontispiece).
J.-B. de La Faille. L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné. Paris, 1928, vol. 1, pp. 172–73, no. 613; vol. 2, pl. 171.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Vincent van Gogh: Mit Vierundfünfzig abbildungen und dem faksimile eines briefes. 6th revised ed. Munich, 1929, ill p. 23, calls it "Zypressen" and identifies the owner as Galerie Thannhauser, Lucerne; notes that a color reproduction is available from Piper-Drucke.
Royal Cortissoz. "French Painting in the Opening Show." New York Herald Tribune (November 10, 1929), p. G10.
Dorothy Grafly. "'Ancestor' Show Assembles Art of 'Modern' Pioneers." Philadelphia Public Ledger (November 10, 1929), p. 65?, states that the picture caused a stir much like Cézanne's "Jas de Bouffans".
Ralph Flint. "The Current American Art Season." Art and Understanding 1, no. 2 (March 1930), p. 184, ill. p. 176, states that "nothing can exceed his 'Cypresses,' from the Thannhauser Collection (Berlin), in intensity of conception, in the molten grandeur of its upspringing passages, in its unabated fury of achievement".
J.-B. de La Faille. Les Faux Van Gogh. Paris, 1930, pp. 7–8, 44, pl. 6, discusses the relationship between this work, the drawing in Brooklyn (F1525), and two paintings (F614 and F616) with very similar compositions which he had exposed as fakes in the corrigenda to his catalogue raisonné of 1928.
W. Scherjon. Catalogue des tableaux par Vincent van Gogh décrits dans ses lettres. Périodes: St. Rémy et Auvers sur Oise. Utrecht, 1932, p. 22, no. 10, ill., as "Etude de Cyprès".
Alfred Bader. Künstler-Tragik: Karl Stauffer, Vincent van Gogh. Basel, 1932, pp. 89–90, pl. 47, remarks on the painter's use of "daring" arabesques to depict the trees' wild agitation from the strong mistral wind.
W. Scherjon and Jos. De Gruyter. Vincent van Gogh's Great Period: Arles, St. Rémy and Auvers sur Oise (complete catalogue). Amsterdam, 1937, p. 212, St. Rémy no. 10, ill., as "Study of Cypresses".
Jean de Beucken. Vincent van Gogh: un portrait. [Brussels], n.d., p. 94, ill. p. 103 (color).
J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh. London, , pp. 425, 559, 574, 588, no. 616, ill.
Georg Schmidt. Van Gogh. Bern, 1947, pp. 26–27, pl. 38.
Isabella H. Perry. "Vincent van Gogh's Illness: A Case Record." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 21, no. 2 (1947), p. 169.
M. M. van Dantzig. Vincent?: A New Method of Identifying the Artist and His Work and of Unmasking the Forger and His Products. Amsterdam, , pp. 89–90, 95–96, pl. 6.
"Notes on the Cover." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (October 1949), opp. p. 49, ill. in color on cover.
Murray Pease. "The Hand and the Brush." Art News Annual 19 (1950), pp. 90–96, ill. overall (color and black and white) and four details (black and white), analyzes the painter's technique, drawing on x-rays and photographs taken in raking light; particularly notes the picture's wet-into-wet passages, high impasto, use of commercial materials, the plasticity of the paint, and, most likely, hand-priming.
Jean Leymarie. Van Gogh. [Paris], 1951, pp. 91, 125, no. 116, ill., identifies the second study of cypresses mentioned by Van Gogh in his letter to Theo [see Gogh 1889, letter no. 596] as F620 (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo).
Margaretta M. Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Miniatures: Vincent van Gogh. New York, 1952, unpaginated, ill. (color).
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 43.
John Rewald. Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin. 1st ed. New York, 1956, p. 334, ill. p. 335 (color) [3rd, rev. ed., 1978, p. 311, ill. p. 314 (color)].
August Kuhn-Foelix. Vincent van Gogh: Eine Psychographie. Bergen, Germany, 1958, p. 146, pl. 37 (cropped).
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, 608, T29.
Catalogue of Colour Reproductions of Paintings—1860 to 1961. Paris, 1961, p. 165, no. 420, ill., erroneously as in a private collection.
H. R. Graetz. The Symbolic Language of Vincent van Gogh. New York, 1963, pp. 185–88, 191, 193–94, 311, colorpl. 72, notes that the way in which the larger cypress is cut off at the top makes it feel as if the tree, "the symbol of the struggling man . . . reaches for the infinite".
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 188–89, ill.
Margaretta M. Salinger. "Windows Open to Nature." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (Summer 1968), unpaginated, ill., states that "the thick layers of paint, the swirling sky, and the contorted upward thrusts of the foreground foliage and of the trees themselves reveal his mental agitation, but even more proclaim his keen awareness of the force in nature".
Jean Leymarie. Van Gogh. [1st ed., 1968]. New York, 1977, pp. 152, 164, 209, ill. p. 153 (color), states that the artist added the crescent moon to represent "the female principle," in contrast to the masculine presence of the cypresses.
Alan Bowness. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, Amsterdam. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. [London], , pp. 110–11.
Marc Edo Tralbaut. Vincent van Gogh. New York, 1969, p. 292 [French ed., "Van Gogh, le mal aimé"].
J.-B. de La Faille. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 246–47, 528, 635, no. 613, ill.
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, p. 220, no. 668, ill. p. 218, as "Due Cipressi".
Hope Benedict Werness. "Essays on van Gogh's Symbolism." PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1972, p. 219 n. 17.
Matthias Arnold. "Duktus und Bildform bei Vincent van Gogh." PhD diss., Ruprecht-Karl University, Heidelberg, 1973, pp. 108–110, 155–56, 194 n. 406.
Charles S. Moffett. Van Gogh as Critic and Self-Critic. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1973, unpaginated, no. 7, comments on the "nearly musical experience" and the pantheistic character found in cypresses as represented in Van Gogh's pictures such as this one.
Carl R. Baldwin. The Impressionist Epoch. Exh. brochure, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [New York], 1974, p. 20, ill., believes it should be considered the daylight counterpart to "Starry Night" (Museum of Modern Art, New York), painted at about the same time.
Jan Hulsker. The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1977]. New York, 1980, pp. 398, 404, no. 1746, ill.
Paul Hefting. Vincent van Gogh: A Detailed Catalogue of the Paintings and Drawings by Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller National Museum. 4th rev. ed. Otterlo, 1980, p. 103 [1st Dutch ed., 1957; 1st English ed., 1959].
Carol Donnell-Kotrozo. Critical Essays on Postimpressionism. London, 1983, ill. [plates unpaginated].
Albert Boime. "Van Gogh's 'Starry Night': A History of Matter and a Matter of History." Arts Magazine 59 (December 1984), p. 87, fig. 6.
Susan Alyson Stein, ed. Van Gogh: A Retrospective. New York, 1986, p. 207, excerpts and translates Lecomte 1890 and L[eclercq] 1890.
Ronald Pickvance The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers. New York, 1986, pp. 108–10, 113, 189, 191, 298–99, no. 15, ill. (black and white and color), identifies it as "almost certainly" the picture included in the 1890 Salon des Indépendants as no. 832 [see Exhibitions]; observes that the Otterlo picture, The Met's "Wheat Field with Cypresses" (1993.132), and "Cypresses" are Van Gogh's "most heavily impastoed paintings," referring to their "near-bas-relief articulation of textures"; notes that the artist was probably thinking of using it in a series of five or six canvases as a room decoration, possibly in contrast to the sunflower, "symbol of life, consolation, and gratitiude," but that he did not complete the series; discusses the drawings made after it.
Patricia Mathews. "Aurier and Van Gogh: Criticism and Response." Art Bulletin 68 (March 1986), p. 95, fig. 3 [the captions to figs. 2–4 are mixed up], discusses it as an illustration of Albert Aurier's comments on Van Gogh's paintings in his 1890 essay on the artist.
Lauren Soth. "Van Gogh's Agony." Art Bulletin 68 (June 1986), p. 309 n. 41, mentions it as one of Van Gogh's five paintings with a crescent moon, discussing its significance for the artist.
Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, pp. 64–65, colorpl. 43 (overall and detail).
John Leighton in "Vincent van Gogh's 'A Cornfield, with Cypresses'." National Gallery Technical Bulletin 11 (1987), pp. 44–45 n. 8.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin: The Reception of Van Gogh in Germany from 1901 to 1914. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1988, pp. 107, 149, 158, ill.
Marja Supinen. "Julien Leclercq-Vincent van Goghin varhainen puolustaja." Taidehistoriallisia Tutkimuksia Konsthistoriska Studier 11 (1988), pp. 82, 87–89, 92, 109, fig. 8, identifies it as having been in Leclercq's collection, and as no. 35 in the 1901 Bernheim-Jeune exhibition, at least in part because of the name "Leclercq" which appears in blue across the back of the stretcher.
Fritz Erpel. Vincent van Gogh: Lebensbilder, Lebenszeichen. Munich, 1989, colorpl. 440, as "Zypressen, mit Mondsichel".
Uwe M. Schneede. Van Gogh in St. Rémy und Auvers: Gemälde 1889/1890. Munich, 1989, unpaginated, colorpl. 7.
Evert van Uitert et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam. Milan, 1990, pp. 210–12, no. 90, ill. (color).
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. 176.
Roland Dorn inVincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, pp. 170, 172, 189 n. 2, states that Theo sent it to the 1890 Salon des Indépendants, and that "in 1891 it was presumably exhibited there again".
Walter Feilchenfeldt inVincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, p. 44.
Ronald Pickvance inVincent van Gogh: Drawings. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo. Milan, 1990, p. 286.
Stanley David Gedzelman. "The Meteorological Odyssey of Vincent van Gogh." Leonardo 23, no. 1 (1990), pp. 110–11, fig. 6.
Marja Supinen. "Julien Leclerq: A Champion of the Unknown Vincent van Gogh." Jong Holland 6, no. 6 (1990), p. 14, fig. 11, reviews the circumstances of its exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune in 1901 and subsequent purchase by Maurice Fabre.
Jan Hulsker. Vincent van Gogh: A Guide to His Work and Letters. Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 41, 54–55, 61, 76, notes this painting among those sent to Theo.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1992–1993." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 51 (Fall 1993), p. 51.
Vojtech Jirat-Wasiutynski. "Vincent van Gogh's Paintings of Olive Trees and Cypresses from St.-Rémy." Art Bulletin 75 (December 1993), pp. 656–58, 667, fig. 11, states that the two trees look like the same pair of trees in "Wheat Field with Cypresses" (The Met, 1993.132); discusses the traditional European symbolism of cypresses as well as the artist's association of them with Egyptian obelisks; notes that it is an image built upon the polarities of dark and light, near and far, and earthly and heavenly.
Louis van Tilborgh inIn Perfect Harmony: Picture + Frame, 1850–1920. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 1995, p. 172, states that its original frame would have been a brown wooden one, based on letters of 1892–93 from R. N. Roland Holst to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
Matthias Arnold. Vincent van Gogh: Werk und Wirkung. Munich, 1995, pp. 485, 494, colorpl. 277.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 497, ill. p. 496.
Jan Hulsker. The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. rev. ed. Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 398, 496, no. 1746, ill. p. 404.
Håkan Larsson. Flames from the South: On the Introduction of Vincent van Gogh to Sweden. Eslöv, 1996, pp. 42–43.
Naomi Margolis Maurer. The Pursuit of Spiritual Wisdom: The Thought and Art of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Madison, N.J., 1998, p. 92, fig. 154 (color).
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. Van Gogh in Provence and Auvers. [New York], 1999, pp. 235, 238, ill. p. 240 (color).
Ronald Pickvance. Van Gogh. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2000, pp. 35, 90.
The Berggruen Collection. Phillips, New York. May 7, 2001, p. 54, fig. 7.
Douglas Druick and Peter Kort Zegers et al. Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. New York, 2001, pp. 289, 294, 408, no. 117, fig. 47 (color).
Louis van Tilborgh and Ella Hendriks. "The Tokyo 'Sunflowers': A Genuine Repetition by Van Gogh or a Schuffenecker Forgery?" Van Gogh Museum Journal (2001), p. 28 n. 71, pp. 30–31 n. 86, discuss the piece of canvas added to the painting in the context of other Van Goghs with similar additions.
Chris Stolwijk and Han Veenenbos. The Account Book of Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Amsterdam, 2002, pp. 47, 105, 142, 181, 183, ill., identify it as one of seven paintings sold by Van Gogh-Bonger for 384 guilders to the Paris dealer Lucien Moline in 1895.
Pierre Cabanne. Van Gogh. Paris, 2002, p. 178.
Hildelies Balk inThe Paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Ed. Toos van Kooten and Mieke Rijnders. Otterlo, 2003, p. 440.
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. 298–99, ill. (color), discusses the painting and its provenance in relation to a related work (F620); explains the symbolism of the cypress.
Frances Fowle. "Painting Like a Provençal: Cézanne, Van Gogh, and the Secret of Monticelli's 'Alchemy'." Soil and Stone: Impressionism, Urbanism, Environment. Ed. Frances Fowle and Richard Thomson. Aldershot, England, 2003, p. 147, calls this and F620 "possibly his [Van Gogh's] most Monticelli-like compositions;" states that our picture was the initial study.
Marije Vellekoop inVincent van Gogh: The Drawings. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. New York, 2005, pp. 312, 314–15, no. 109, ill. (color).
Sjraar van Heugten. Van Gogh Draughtsman: The Masterpieces. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2005, pp. 163, 167, 191, fig. 147 (color).
Walter Feilchenfeldt. By Appointment Only: Cézanne, Van Gogh and Some Secrets of Art Dealing. English ed. London, 2006, ill. p. 72 (color), as "The Cypresses"; includes installation photo of painting at the 1912 Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne [see Exh. Cologne 1912].
Lupina Lara Elizondo in Lupina Lara Elizondo. Van Gogh, Atl, O'Higgins: Expresión humana, esencia del paisaje. Mexico City, 2006, pp. 111, 257, ill. p. 103 (color).
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. 148–49, 219, no. 109, ill. (color and black and white), notes that it was painted with "unhesitating gusto" and with only one substantive revision, the crescent moon's shift to the right; identifies it as the "Cyprès" of the Paris 1890 exhibition.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 170, 258–59, no. 158, 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, 67 n. 1.
Marie-Paule Vial inVan Gogh Monticelli. Exh. cat., Centre de la Vieille Charité, Marseille. [Paris], 2008, p. 34, fig. 13 (color).
Gottfried Boehm inVincent van Gogh—Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel. Ostfildern, 2009, pp. 34, 46, discusses it among the artist's landscapes with painterly gestures that seem to be "formed by emotional energies".
Seraina Werthemann and Nina Zimmer inVincent van Gogh—Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel. Ostfildern, 2009, pp. 241–43, 246–47, 304, no. 50, ill. (color), notes that it was painted once Van Gogh was allowed to go beyond the grounds of the asylum; states that Andries Bonger's (Theo van Gogh's brother-in-law) first inventory of paintings in Theo's estate (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) identified the trees in The Met's picture as poplars, calling it "Peupliers clair de lune" (Poplars in the Moonlight).
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. 208, 210, 220, 223 n. 15, fig. 154 (color), notes that Van Gogh never again painted the cypresses in situ after this picture, the Otterlo "Cypresses," and The Met's "Wheat Field with Cypresses" (1993.132).
Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 5, pp. 41–42, 46, fig. 6 (color), under letter no. 783, p. 49, fig. 10 (color), under letter no. 784, p. 106, fig. 5 (color), under letter no. 806, pp. 206–7, fig. 1 (color), under letter no. 858, identify it as the painting shown at Exh. Paris 1890 as "Le cyprès".
Leo Jansen inThe Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 2010, p. 239.
Teio Meedendorp inThe Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 2010, pp. 240–43, no. 133, ill. (color).
Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Van Gogh: The Life. New York, 2011, p. 759, ill. between pp. 590 and 591 (color).
Susan Alyson Stein inEarth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, pp. 15, 19, 148, 154–55, 247, no. 94, ill. in color (overall, detail, and cover) and b&w [Chinese ed., Hefei Shi, 2013, pp. 206–7, no. 94, ill. in color (overall, detail, and cover)].
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France. Complete Paintings 1886–1890. London, 2013, pp. 20, 31 n. 23, pp. 210, 292, 312, 316, 318–20, 343, 346, ill. (color) [1st German ed., 2009], as "The Cypresses"; suggests that Lucien Moline may have sold the painting to Harry Count Kessler.
Louis van Tilborgh, Teio Meedendorp, and Oda van Maanen. "'Sunset at Montmajour': A Newly Discovered Painting by Vincent van Gogh." Burlington Magazine 155 (October 2013), pp. 700–701 n. 36, discuss Maurice Fabre's ownership of the painting.
Edwin Mullins. Van Gogh: The Asylum Year. London, 2015, p. 159, ill. p. 158 (color detail).
Sjraar van Heugten inVan Gogh and Nature. Exh. cat., Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2015, pp. 187, 190–91, 232, no. 39, fig. 160 (color), states that it is a scene from early morning or dusk, noting the inclusion of a crescent moon; calls Adolphe Monticelli the model for Van Gogh's technique of using heavy impasto in The Met's and the Kröller-Müller's cypress pictures; notes that Van Gogh made a drawing after each painting; discusses the artist's attraction to the subject of cypresses as a technical and stylistic challenge, specifying his mastery of the dark palette and his use of long, lively lines to render the forms of the cypresses.
James Ottar Grundvig. Breaking Van Gogh: Saint-Rémy, Forgery, and the $95 Million Fake at the Met. New York, 2016, pp. xi, 72, 88, 95–96, 100, 115, 146–47, 178, 183, 222, 245, mistakenly associates Van Gogh's letter to his brother Theo of July 2, 1889 with The Met's painting, instead of the Otterlo picture.
Megan Fontanella inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, pp. 32, 36 n. 67.
Monique Hageman and Nora Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, p. 312.
Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, fig. 1 (photograph of gallery façade window), reproduce an advertisement photograph for the Thannhauser gallery that shows the painting in the front window.
Chris Stolwijk inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, pp. 49–52, 55 nn. 35–36, figs. 31 (color), 32 (installation shot of Berliner Künstlerhaus 1927), discusses Thannhauser's ownership, the potential buyers to whom it was offered, and the increasing—and eventually precipitously dropping—asking price.
Stefan Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, pp. 56, 58, 66, 150, 156, 202, 227, 278, no. 27, ill. p. 151 (color), figs. 36 and 37 (photographs of gallery entrance window), 47 (installation shot of Cologne 1912), notes that Thannhauser offered it to American institutions at more favorable prices than to their European colleagues; states that Schocken purchased the picture on December 24, 1931, and that the different purchase date listed in Thannhauser's inventory book may reflect a later payment date; discusses both Schocken and Thannhauser ownership history.
Renske Suijver inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, p. 96.
Nora Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, p. 306.
Maite van Dijk. "Foreign Artists versus French Critics: Exhibition Strategies and Critical Reception at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris (1884–1914)." PhD diss., University of Amsterdam, 2017, pp. 148–49, fig. 57 (color), illustrates and discusses a list of ten paintings by the artist, including this one, which his brother, Theo, intended for exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants of 1890 and wrote on the back of a letter from Dr. Théophile Peyron, dated February 24, 1890, announcing Vincent’s breakdown; notes that it was a likely choice for the exhibition since Vincent considered it a quintessential Provence subject and Theo intended to present his brother as a modern painter of the region.
Martin Bailey. Starry Night: Van Gogh at the Asylum. London, 2018, pp. 108, 110, 167–68, 202 n. 11 (under ch. 9), fig. 72 (color), states that the artist used a technique from Japanese prints in cropping out the top of the taller tree; notes that Aurier would have seen it with Theo in Paris.
Chris Stolwijk inTreasures of the RKD: Netherlands Institute for Art History. Ed. Yvonne Bleyerveld et al. The Hague, 2018, pp. 16–17, ill. (color).
Megan Fontanella inThannhauser Collection: French Modernism at the Guggenheim. Ed. Megan Fontanella. New York, 2018, pp. 39, 291 n. 78, fig. 12 (photograph of gallery façade window), provides Thannhauser stock numbers for the painting.
Alexander Eiling inMaking Van Gogh: A German Love Story. Ed. Alexander Eiling and Felix Krämer. Exh. cat., Städel Museum. Frankfurt, 2019, p. 23, fig. 4 (color).
Benno Tempel et al. Vincent van Gogh: Under the Spell of the Hague School and Impressionism. Exh. cat., Ueno Royal Museum. Tokyo, 2019, pp. 188, 190, 246, no. 76, ill. cover, pp. 108–9, 189, 191 (color, overall and details).
Nienke Bakker inVan Gogh and the Olive Groves. Ed. Nienke Bakker and Nicole R. Myers. Exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Art. Dallas, 2021, p. 21, fig. 2 (color).
Louis van Tilborgh inVan Gogh and the Olive Groves. Ed. Nienke Bakker and Nicole R. Myers. Exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Art. Dallas, 2021, p. 52.
Nicole R. Myers et al. inVan Gogh and the Olive Groves. Ed. Nienke Bakker and Nicole R. Myers. Exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Art. Dallas, 2021, pp. 101, 106 n. 1.
Eik Kahng inThrough Vincent's Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources. Ed. Eik Kahng. Exh. cat., Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio. Santa Barbara, 2021, p. 13, fig. 10 (color).
Susan Alyson Stein inVan Gogh in America. Ed. Jill Shaw. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2022, pp. 86, 88 n. 89.
Dorota Chudzicka inVan Gogh in America. Ed. Jill Shaw. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2022, fig. 2 (installation photo of Cologne 1912).
Hans Luijten. Jo van Gogh-Bonger: The Woman Who Made Vincent Famous. London, 2023, pp. 145, 164, states that Johanna van Gogh-Bonger refused to lower the price of the painting for Jan Veth; notes that the eventual sale of this picture through Moline "proved to be a very poor bargain for her".
Max Hollein in Susan Alyson Stein. Van Gogh's Cypresses. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2023, p. 7.
Susan Alyson Stein. Van Gogh's Cypresses. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2023, pp. 46, 58, 60–61, 65, 77–79, 82, 86–88, 91, 129, 138, 174 n. 42, p. 178 n. 5, p. 179 n. 21, p. 185, fig. 66 (color), discusses the painting in depth; suggests it has a kinship with Monet's tall boulders painted in Brittany (for example, "The Pyramids of Port-Coton" [1886, Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Collection Rau for UNICEF]), and notes that Van Gogh had seen these works by Monet; mentions that Albert Aurier's article on the occasion of the 1890 Salon des Indépendants brought Theo to appreciate the cypress series.
Charlotte Hale and Silvia A. Centeno in Susan Alyson Stein. Van Gogh's Cypresses. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2023, pp. 93–94, 100–106, 176–77 nn. 30–32,ill. pp. 92–93, figs. 79–82 (color details in normal and raking light, photomicrographs, and x-radiograph), note that it is among the artist's most thickly painted works and that it was probably lined in its current format by 1901; cite the scores of sand particles, small pebbles, and vegetal matter embedded in the paint as new evidence that Van Gogh painted mostly out of doors; remark on the weight and dented state of the impasto as elements suggesting that the painting fell or was blown forward facedown from the artist's portable easel; discuss in detail the artist's technique in this painting; state that the white accents in the foreground would have been pink originally and have faded.
Deborah Solomon. "Majesty and Mystery in the Cypresses." New York Times (May 12, 2023), pp. C1, C16–17, ill. (color, overall and details, on easel, and under microscope in Met's Paintings Conservation department), discusses the findings from a technical investigation of the painting, including the discovery of sand and limestone pebbles embedded in the paint, confirming its having been painted in situ outdoors; notes that Met paintings conservator Charlotte Hale suggests that the artist's easel may have blown over from the strong wind.
A. R. Hoffman. "Van Gogh's Cypresses Take Root at Manhattan and Star in Some of Western Art's Most Incandescently Bendy Landscapes." New York Sun (May 16, 2023) [https://www.nysun.com/article/van-goghs-cypresses-take-root-at-manhattan].
Martin Bailey. "Van Gogh's Cypresses Are the Focus of an Exhibition Opening at The Met in New York." Art Newspaper (May 19, 2023), ill. (color) [https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2023/05/19/van-goghs-cypresses-are-the-focus-of-an-exhibition-opening-at-the-met-in-new-york], notes that the technical examination of the painting found that some of the thick impasto paint has been indented, suggesting that the sand and pebbles were embedded when the picture fell to the ground, likely from the mistral wind; states that Van Gogh painted over some of the debris, "presumably back in his studio".
Ariella Budick. "Van Gogh's Cypresses, Metropolitan Museum—the Perfectionist Behind the Wild Genius." Financial Times (May 24, 2023), ill. (color) [https://www.ft.com/content/3b85c7dd-8fac-470e-8617-454ofc078370].
Sebastian Smee. "Forget 'Immersive Van Gogh.' These Exhibitions are the Real Thing." Washington Post (June 1, 2023), ill. (color) [https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2023/06/01/van-gogh-aic-met-exhibits/], calls it Van Gogh's masterpiece.
Jackson Arn. "The World-Changing Trees of Vincent van Gogh." New Yorker (June 5, 2023), ill. (color) [https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-art-world/teh-world-changing-trees-of-vincent-van-gogh], states of his preference for this picture over "Starry Night" (1889, Museum of Modern Art, New York): "it's something to make trees seem at one with the cosmos, but it's something else to make them an actual cosmos".
Matthew Wilson. "From The Starry Night to a Wheatfield: Van Gogh's Darkest Symbol." BBC (June 13, 2023), ill. (color) [https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20230612-from-the-starry-night-to-a-wheatfield-van-goghs-darkest-symbol], compares the painting of the tree to that of a "frozen column of smoke".
Karen Wilkin. "'Van Gogh's Cypresses' Review: Branching Trees and Starry Nights." Wall Street Journal (June 21, 2023), ill. (color) [https://www.wsj.com/articles/van-goghs-cypresses-review-branching-trees-and-starry-nights-4194516b].
Daniel Larkin. "The Dark Side of Van Gogh's Cypress Trees." Hyperallergic (August 15, 2023) [https://hyperallergic.com/838381/the-dark-side-of-van-goghs-cypress-trees/], states that nothing about the painting points to the allegorical interpretation Aurier advanced.
The name "Leclercq" is written in blue across the left side of the stretcher (see correspondence in archive file).
Van Gogh painted this picture in June 1889 at Saint-Rémy. He included a sketch of the composition in a letter of June 25 to his brother Theo. There is also a pen-and-ink drawing (F1525; Brooklyn Museum of Art) made after the painting.
Eugène Druet photograph, pl. 59, nos. 24/30–43855 and 40/50–6329, ca. 1900–1910 (Collection Le fonds Druet-Vizzavona, Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Fort de Saint-Cyr, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France). The photograph is assigned two nos. Probably shot during Exh. Paris 1908.
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