La moisson (The Wheatfield behind Saint Paul's Hospital with a Reaper)

Vincent van Gogh1889

Museum Folkwang

Museum Folkwang
Essen, Germany

Through the window of his room in the Saint-Remy mental hospital, van Gogh looked out on a field. He painted and drew this motif, which lay just beyond the garden wall, several times. In a letter to his friend, Émile Bernard, he wrote that he had taken up the »devil of a question of yellow« in the study. He intended to paint it in pure sulfur yellow. Van Gogh explained the metaphor, obviously chosen with care, to his brother Theo; »I see in this reaper – an undefined figure, struggling in the intense heat like the devil to finish his work – I see him as an image of death in the sense that the humans are the corn that is being cut down. So it is, if you will, the opposite of the sowing that I tried earlier. But this death is not sad, it takes place in bright light with a sun that covers everything with a light like pure gold.«


  • Title: La moisson (The Wheatfield behind Saint Paul's Hospital with a Reaper)
  • Creator: Vincent van Gogh
  • Creator Lifespan: 1853/1890
  • Date: 1889
  • Provenance: Acquired in 1902 for the Museum Folkwang, Hagen, since 1922 Essen
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Museum Folkwang
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Höhe: 59.50 cm
  • Collection: Painting, Sculpture, Media Art
  • Breite: 72.50 cm

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