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Van Gogh's Cypresses

Stein, Susan Alyson, with essays by Charlotte Hale, Silvia Centeno, Alison Hokanson, and Marina Kliger
192 pages
170 illustrations
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Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) immortalized the cypress tree in signature images that have become synonymous with his fiercely original power of expression. This richly illustrated publication illuminates the backstory of his invention for the first time, from his initial investigations of the motif in benchmark drawings from Arles to his realization of their full evocative potential in such iconic canvases as The Starry Night and Wheat Field with Cypresses, painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy. Susan Alyson Stein retraces the Dutch artist’s inspired response to the flamelike evergreens as they gained ground in his works and artistic thinking over the course of his sojourn in the South of France. The volume provides further insight into Van Gogh’s creative process through a technical study focused on two celebrated works from the artist’s epic painting campaign of June 1889. The visual and literary heritage of the cypresses is featured in a compilation of images and excerpts from nineteenth-century poetry, novels, and travel writing—many translated into English for the first time.

Wheat Field, Vincent van Gogh  Dutch, Reed pen and logwood ink over graphite on wove paper
July 1888
Old Women of Arles, from the "Volpini Suite: Dessins lithographiques", Paul Gauguin  French, Zincograph on chrome yellow wove paper; first edition
Wheat Field with Cypresses, Vincent van Gogh  Dutch, Oil on canvas
Cypresses, Vincent van Gogh  Dutch, Oil on canvas
Four Figures, Adolphe Monticelli  French, Oil on wood
Cypress and Poppies, Elihu Vedder  American, Oil on canvas, American
ca. 1880–90
Pictures from Italy, Charles Dickens  British, Illustrations: wood engraving
Multiple artists/makers
Christian Inspiration, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes  French, Pastel over watercolor, gouache, on cream-colored paper
Snow-Bound, John Greenleaf Whittier  American, Illustrations: engraving
Multiple artists/makers

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Gogh, Vincent van, Susan Alyson Stein, Charlotte Hale, and Silvia A. Centeno. 2023. Van Gogh’s Cypresses. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.