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Van Gogh immersed himself in painting the colourful orchards around Arles in the south of France, where he settled in February 1888. The structure of the branches of the apricot trees is still clearly visible through the blossom and his brushstrokes follow the direction of the vertical tree trunks. He painted a series of pictures of orchards during his prolific bouts of activity in Arles. His initial optimism, expressed in letters to his brother Theo, encouraged Gauguin to join him there. They soon quarrelled, however, being temperamentally incompatible, and the following year Van Gogh's mental illness prompted his admission to the asylum at Saint-Remy.

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