1Flowering Plum Orchard

Making an Impression: Top 5 Springtime Paintings by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) is one of the most renowned Post-Impressionist painters in all of Western Art. The Post-Impressionism art movement is characterized by varying styles that used abstract elements to depict line, pattern, form, and color. Notable 19-th century artists from this movement include Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin, and Georges Seurat. While he may not have been recognized for his artistic talents during his time, Van Gogh’s creations were a breath of fresh air that encapsulated the spirit and beauty of nature. The following list demonstrates some of the most prolific works painted by Van Gogh that highlight his mastery in capturing the essence of the spring season.

1. Flowering Plum Orchard (after Hiroshige)

1Flowering Plum Orchard
Flowering Plum Orchard by Vincent van Gogh c. 1887 courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vincent Van Gogh was an avid admirer of Japanese printmaking. Not only did he recreate three well-known Japanese prints, but also created a number of paintings inspired by this style. Flowering Plum Orchard is based on traditional ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige’s Plum Garden in Kameido. Van Gogh’s painting reinvents the original piece with his own twist by featuring the tree trunks with red and blue hues and adding two orange borders with black Japanese characters.

2. Almond Blossoms

Almond Blossoms by Vincent van Gogh c. 1890
Almond Blossoms by Vincent van Gogh c. 1890 courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Almond Blossoms is a well-recognized artwork painted by Van Gogh in 1980 as a gift for his brother Theo and sister-in-law Jo, who had just had a baby boy they named Vincent Willem. Almond trees tend to flower in early spring and represent new life. His inspiration in painting blossoming trees, use of bold outlines and the specific view of the tree originate from from Japanese printmaking.

3. The Flowering Orchard Arles France

The Flowering Orchard Arles, France by Vincent van Gogh c. 1888 courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Between March and April of 1888, Van Gogh painted fourteen canvases depicting springtime in the city of Arles in France, including The Flowering Orchard. During this time, the flowering season put him in what he referred to in a letter to his brother Theo as “a fury of work.” This painting also shows the influence of Japanese printmaking, with its angular, elongated branches. The inclusion of the scythe and rake makes this one of only two orchard paintings that display the existence of a humankind.

4. Fishing in Spring

Fishing in Spring the Pont de Clichy (Asnières), France by Vincent van Gogh c. 1887 Courtesy artic.edu

The technique in which Van Gogh used in Fishing in Spring demonstrates the influence Paul Signac had in his artist style. The setting of this work is the Seine River at the Pont de Clichy, where Van Gogh and Signac had painted together on numerous occasions. In this piece, Van Gogh demonstrates a change in subject matter, and use of brighter pigments and varying brushstrokes.

5. Riverbank at Springtime France

Riverbank at Springtime France by Vincent van Gogh c.1887 courtesy of dma.org

Another painting that exhibits Van Gogh’s transition from painting floral branches to landscapes is seen in Riverbank at Springtime. Here, he captures the new spring season along the Seine River using light colors and different variations of brushstrokes. During this time, Van Gogh had moved to Paris and was learning new methods of painting through his Neo-Impressionist contemporaries. Traces of red paint appear around the edges of the painting. This painting is believed to have been shown as one of three as a triptych.

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Adriana Dunn

Adriana serves as the curator of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. Prior to this, she completed her Bachelor of Arts at Central Connecticut State University, with a major in Anthropology and minors in History and Archaeology. She also completed my Master of Arts at the University of Memphis in Art History and a Museum Studies Certificate. She has always had a deep appreciation for art history and material culture. Her professional and personal interests include cultural heritage, collections management, and art and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world.
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