In this dramatic landscape van Gogh depicts a gray, rainy autumn day in France. He uses quick, diagonal slashes of white paint in the foreground to depict the rain falling outside his window. Through streaks of rain, a plowed field composed of many green, gray, blue, white, brown, and golden yellow colors stretches into the distance toward an extremely high horizon line. A wall surrounding the field climbs up and across on a steep diagonal, giving the field the feeling of stretching both outward and upward toward the misty mountains in the distance.
Van Gogh’s unusual composition combines a sense of deep space with the flat streaks of rain in the foreground. The unusual vantage point and the practice of representing rainfall by diagonal lines can be linked to his interest in and study of prints by Japanese artists, who employed similar compositional techniques in their woodcuts. In fact, van Gogh had copied Utagawa Hiroshige’s The Great Bridge: A Sudden Shower at Atake two years earlier when he saw it in Paris.
Van Gogh painted Rain while he was a patient at the hospital of Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint-Rémy, a small town near Arles. He entered the facility in May 1889 in search of help for his emotional problems. He had a private room as well as a studio. From his room van Gogh could look down on the wheatfield depicted in Rain. During his eleven-month stay van Gogh drew and painted this view about a dozen times, experimenting with the shifting light effects and weather changes he observed through the seasons. This is the only painting he made of this field in the rain. Although he was looking through bars on the window when he composed this image, van Gogh made a conscious decision to leave them out of his landscape. He felt that the act of painting was healing, though he sometimes worked so hard that he made himself sick. Van Gogh created many of his greatest masterpieces during his time in Saint-Rémy by looking at the views outside his window.
As always, members will receive their discount for all transactions processed through our Art on Demand Store. Simply enter your member id during the checkout process and your discount will be applied.