Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890)
Oil on canvas; 23 3/4 x 29 in. (60.3 x 73.7 cm)
Inscribed: (on cover of book) EMILE ZOLA / LA joie de / VIVRE; (on spine of book) Lajoie de / vivre / Emile / Zola
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Loeb, 1962 (62.24)
For Van Gogh, oleanders were joyous, life-affirming flowers that bloomed "inexhaustibly" and were always "putting out strong new shoots." In this painting of August 1888 the flowers fill a majolica jug that the artist used for other still lifes made in Arles. They are symbolically juxtaposed with Émile Zola's La joie de vivre, a novel that Van Gogh had placed in contrast to an open Bible in a Nuenen still life of 1885.