Oil on canvas
73.0 x 92.0 cm.
Saint-Rémy: June, 1889
F 612, JH 1731
New York: The Museum of Modern Art
Starry Night is probably Vincent van Gogh's most famous painting. Instantly recognizable because of its unique style, this work has been the subject of poetry, fiction, CD-ROMs as well as the well known song "Vincent" or "Starry, Starry Night" by Don McLean.
While there's no denying the popularity of Starry Night, it's also interesting to note that there is very little known about Vincent's own feelings toward his work. This is mainly due to the fact that he only mentions it in his letters to Theo twice (nos. 595 and 607), and then only in passing. In his correspondence with his brother, Vincent would often discuss specific works in great detail, but not so in the case of Starry Night. Why? It's difficult to say.
Starry Night was painted while Vincent was in the asylum at Saint-Rémy and his behaviour was very erratic at the time, due to the severity of his attacks. Unlike most of Van Gogh's works, Starry Night was painted from memory and not outdoors as was Vincent's preference. This may, in part, explain why the emotional impact of the work is so much more powerful than many of Van Gogh's other works from the same period.
Some people have made stylistic comparisons to Vincent's other well known and equally turbulent work Wheatfield with Crows. Does the tumultuous style of these works reflect a tortured mind? Or is there something more we can read within the whorls Vincent's raging night sky? This is what makes Starry Night not only Vincent's most famous work, but also one of its most frequently interpreted in terms of its meaning and importance.
Some people have speculated about the eleven stars in the painting. While it's true that Vincent didn't have the same religious fervour in 1889, when he painted the work, as he did in his earlier years, there is a possibility that the story of Joseph in the Old Testament may have had an influence on the composition of the work.
'Look, I have had another dream' he said, 'I thought I saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars, bowing to me.'
Whatever the interpretations or underlying meanings, Starry Night stands out as one of the most important works of art produced in the nineteenth century.
|Theo van Gogh||Paris||France||1889-91||
|Johanna van Gogh-Bonger||Amsterdam||Netherlands||1891-1905||
|Miss G.P. van Stolk||Rotterdam||Netherlands||1906-38||On loan to Museum Boymans, Rotterdam, until May 1924.|
|Paul Rosenburg Art Gallery||New York||United States||1938-41|
|Museum of Modern Art||New York||United States||1941||Acquired through the L.P. Bliss bequest.|
|Year||City||Country||Venue||Exhibit Name||Start Date||End Date||No.|
|1905||Amsterdam||Netherlands||Stedelijk Museum||Tentoonstelling Vincent van Gogh||15 July 1905||1 August 1905||199|
|1906||Rotterdam||Netherlands||Kunstzalen Oldenzeel||Tentoonstelling Vincent van Gogh||26 January 1906||28 February 1906||47|
|1927-28||Rotterdam||Netherlands||Museum Boymans||Kersttentoonstelling in het Museum Boijmans||23 December 1927||16 January 1928||33|
|1944||New York (2)||United States||Museum of Modern Art||Art in Progress, Fifteenth Anniversary Exhibition||29|
|1948||Cleveland||United States||Cleveland Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh||3 November 1948||12 December 1948||19|
|1949-50||New York||United States||Metropolitan Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh Paintings and Drawings. A Special Loan Exhibition||21 October 1949||15 January 1950||111A|
|1950||Chicago||United States||Art Institute of Chicago||Vincent van Gogh Paintings and Drawings. A Special Loan Exhibition||1 February 1950||16 April 1950||111A|
|1950-51||Philadelphia||United States||Philadelphia Museum of Art||Masterpieces of Painting, Daimond Jubilee Exhibition||4 November 1950||11 February 1951||90|
|1952-53||New York||United States||Museum of Modern Art||Les Fauves||8 October 1952||4 January 1953||4|
|1954||Chicago||United States||Art Institute of Chicago||Masterpieces of Religious Art||15 July 1954||31 August 1954||p 54|
|1955||Paris (2)||France||Musée de l'Orangerie||De David à Toulouse-Lautrec, Chefs d'oeuvre des collection américaines||34|
|1986-87||New York||United States||Metropolitan Museum of Art||Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers||12 November 1986||22 March 1987||14|
|1990||Amsterdam||Netherlands||Van Gogh Museum||Vincent van Gogh. Schilderijen||30 March 1990||29 July 1990||93|
|2000||Atlanta||United States||High Museum of Art||Van Gogh's 'Starry Night': Three Masterpieces from The Museum of Modern Art, New York||2 September 2000||5 November 2000|
|2001-02||Chicago||United States||Art Institute of Chicago||Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South||22 September 2001||13 January 2002||116|
|2003-04||Houston||United States||Museum of Fine Arts||The Heroic Century: The Museum of Modern Art's Masterpieces, 200 Paintings and Sculptures||21 September 2003||4 January 2004|
|2004||Berlin||Germany||New National Gallery||The Heroic Century: The Museum of Modern Art's Masterpieces, 200 Paintings and Sculptures||18 February 2004||19 September 2004|
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