Almond Blossom (1890) – Vincent Van Gogh

In painting the Almond Blossom, Van Gogh was not out to revive his own optimism but to make an offering to his ever-caring brother. In spring 1889, Theo had married Jo Bonger, and in February 1890 she gave birth to their son, whom they named Vincent after the boy’s godfather. The Blossoming Almond Tree was van Gogh’s present to the infant that would perpetuate his name. Never before had he viewed the bright buds in such close-up; never before had he lavished such colour on the glorious blossoms. The hope expressed in the painting is bound up with human life and thoughts of the future. It is not exactly Utopian in character; rather, the keynote of the painting is longing. And it is not really a reminiscence of Aries at all – in a sense, the painting is a celebration of family life, which Vincent the godfather now felt part of again. In the picture, he tried to call forth for his godson what was denied to him: a carefree, happy future.

10 Secrets of “Almond Blossom”

1) The 1890 painting “Almond Blossom” was Van Gogh’s gift to his newly born nephew and namesake.

2) Van Gogh arrived in Arles in the spring of 1888 on the heels of a late snowfall. Housebound, he spent his first week painting such still life treatments as “Blossoming Almond in a Glass” and “Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass with a Book.”

3) He produced just about a painting of a flowering tree each day during the first month of his visit, including some of almond blossoms.

4) The “Almond Blossom” series of paintings contains strong elements of the Japanese Ukiyo-e prints that Van Gogh had been collecting. These elements include Cropping of the image, Bold outlines of the branches, Absence of perspective/horizon, and Large, bright blocks of colour.

5) Van Gogh’s “Almond Blossom” was part of a recent “Van Gogh and Japan” joint exhibition of his own works and Japanese paintings.

6) After Vincent’s and Theo’s death, “Almond Blossoms” went to Theo’s widow, Joanna Van Gogh Bonger, and then to V.J. Van Gogh. The Van Gogh Foundation acquired the canvas in 1960, and it now resides at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

7) In his May 3, 1890 letter to Vincent, Theo praises the “Almond Blossoms,” which his brother had sent in a group of works to Paris, as “very, very beautiful.”

8) Ironically Vincent completed his final painting of the blossoming tree, an image of rebirth and new life, a few short months before his death by suicide.

9) Theo and Joanna hung the final version of “Almond Blossoms” above their infant son’s bed. Joanna wrote to the elder Vincent that it “seems to enthral him.”

10) Due to a fresh onset of illness during his work on “Almond Blossoms” in February 1890, Vincent was unable to go out and paint the other flowering trees that spring, telling his brother Theo in a letter, “Really, I have no luck.”

Source - https://www.vincentvangogh.org

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