Art historian Prof James Hall, a former Guardian art critic, says that the Eiffel Tower may have been what inspired Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
Art experts have long struggled to explain the inspiration behind Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, in which towering cypress trees are depicted against a swirling night sky over a hillside village. Created during his incarceration in an asylum near Saint-Rémy in the south of France, it is one of a series of paintings of cypress trees interpreted as an exploration of abstraction or a mystical evocation of nature.
Now the art historian Prof James Hall, a former Guardian art critic, has a new theory to explain Van Gogh’s fascination with these colossal evergreens: the Eiffel Tower.
He argues that the artist began this series in June 1889, shortly after the Paris monument was unveiled as the star attraction of the International Exposition, whose opening was accompanied by a spectacular late-night show of pyrotechnics, electric light and explosions that he says are repeated in the “pyrotechnical music of the stars, sky and clouds” of Van Gogh’s painting.
Hall said: “For Van Gogh, the cypress tree is a natural alternative to the Eiffel Tower, the centrepiece of the exhibition. Starry Night is a rural and cosmic counterpart to the light show that marked the opening of the exhibition.”
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In June 1889, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: “The cypresses still preoccupy me, I’d like to do something with them like the canvases of the sunflowers because it astonishes me that no one has yet done them as I see them. It’s beautiful as regards lines and proportions, like an Egyptian obelisk.”
According to a lawsuit filed recently in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norman Rockwell artwork was stolen and hidden in the White House.
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