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Enclosed Field with Ploughman. Saint-Rémy

Painting, August 1889, 50.3×64.9 cm

Description of the artwork «Enclosed Field with Ploughman. Saint-Rémy»

On November 13, 2017, the "Enclosed Field with Ploughman. Saint-Rémy" landscape became the second most expensive work of the Dutch impressionist. That night at Christie's New York the buyer on the phone laid out 81.3 million USD for it, after a fierce battle four-minute rates, against the estimate of 50 million. This is just slightly less than the record $ 82.5 million paid for "Portrait of Doctor Gachet" (1890) in May 1990.

Van Gogh painted this picture a year before his death, in the late summer of 1889, in an asylum Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. The artist got there in May of the same year after a devastating nervous breakdown which followed the quarrel with Paul Gauguin in the small "Yellow house" in Arles. Van Gogh then was deeply upset that his brother Theo was going to marry, as the artist was worried that this would put an end to their intimate relationship.

In fear for his life, Gauguin fled to the hotel. Believing that a friend had left him forever, van Gogh was in despair and cut his left ear with a razor. Van Gogh spent the next two weeks in the hospital of Arles. After another failure, the Reverend Frederic Salle, one of the few artist's friends, suggested him to go to Saint-Paul-de-Mausole.

In the first month of his stay there, van Gogh was under close observation, without leaving the room. "Through the window heavily barred with iron rods, I can see a wheat field outside the fence, which I see as the sun rises to the Zenith," he wrote to his brother Theo.  

The "Enclosed Field with Ploughman. Saint-Rémy" landscape was the artist's first painting after a long break. Van Gogh started working in the last days of August and completed the work on the 2nd of September. "Yesterday I began working on the view from the window. The work distracts me much better than anything else. If only I could plunge myself again into it with all the energy, it would be the best way," he wrote to his brother in those days. 

During that year, van Gogh painted this field at different times of day, in different weather and at different stages of planting and harvesting. Despite the fact that the artist did not consider these 13 paintings as a series, each of them presents the same basic elements: the wall intersecting the top edge of the landscape, farm buildings and distant hills.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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About the artwork

Alternative titles: Farmer in the field. Saint-Remy

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape

Style of art: Post-Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: August 1889

Size: 50.3×64.9 cm

Artwork in selections: 51 selections