During his first weeks in Arles in the South of France, Vincent van Gogh set up his easel in the orchard almost every day to record the glorious blossoms. In a brief time he painted fifteen orchards. He was hopeful that the paintings would sell well, since he believed that the subjects had the power to ‘cheer everyone up.’
When he saw the works he was pleased with together, he wanted to combine them as decorative triptychs. Van Gogh was familiar with triptychs, in which three works form a single harmonious entity, from Japanese graphic art.
There is an earlier, nearly identical version of this painting in the collection of The Kröller Müller Museum. Van Gogh dedicated the first painting to Anton Mauve after he saw his death notice. Mauve was a well-known artist, who taught Van Gogh the basics of painting in watercolour and oils. Mauve was also Van Gogh’s uncle by marriage.
Van Gogh later made this new version and send it to Theo.