'Under the blue sky, the orange, yellow, red patches of flowers take on an amazing brilliance, and in the limpid air there’s something happier and more suggestive of love than in the north...' so wrote Vincent van Gogh from the southern French town of Arles to his brother Theo in the summer of 1888. In the same letter, he mentions two different studies and a drawing of a garden near Arles. In the early spring of that year, Van Gogh had been full of reminiscences of the Hague School, after news of the sudden death of his former teacher Anton Mauve made him realise the debt he owed to his period in The Hague. During that period, Anton Mauve had advised him to work as much as possible from nature. In Arles, Van Gogh luxuriated in the vivid colours of the Provencal landscape. In this painting, however, he gives expression to them in a way that is radically different from the sensibility of the Hague School painters.
Source: J. Sillevis, ‘De tijd van het impressionisme’, in T.M. Eliëns, J. van Es (eds.), Kunst is keuze, Den Haag, Zwolle 2007.