This pen-and-ink drawing – one of five works by van Gogh in the Kupferstichkabinett – records the composition of an oil painting created on 12 June 1888 (The Harvest, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam). In mid-July 1888, the artist sent it together with other drawings as a gift to the painter, graphic artist, and art writer Émile Bernard.
In contrast to the finely differentiated colour and the individual emphasis given to the motifs in the Amsterdam oil painting, the drawing’s system of short, variously horizontal, vertical, swirling, spiralling, and stippled strokes reduces the image to an all-over composition, to a generic scene of the scenery of Provence, as described by van Gogh in a letter to Bernard.
Among the master’s pen-and-ink drawings of a comparably high and finished quality, only a few have been so exceptionally well preserved – regarding both original colour and material – as that of the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett. This provides yet another reason why this work must be carefully cared for and preserved as a point of reference for research into van Gogh’s art.