When they do not populate explicitly religious paintings, ears of corn and loaves of bread often take on a secondary meaning of spiritual communion between beings. The "companions" are, in the etymological sense of the term, those who share the bread. But cereals can also be for artists the occasion of another quest for meaning, that which aims to reach the essence of things through pictorial representation.
Among these painters who seek to explore the material, to immerse themselves in color, we find the unclassifiable Van Gogh. He painted "La Méridienne" while copying the masters, including Millet, and admired the wheat fields from the window of his room at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Working from a black and white engraving published in the press, he undertook to translate it into his own language, that of colors. Indeed, if the subject is faithfully translated into the details of the pair of hooves and the two sickles abandoned in the foreground, the palette of bright colors is the very visible touch of the Dutch genius. The balance of the painting lies in the play of chromatic contrasts between the yellows and blues, from softness to saturation. The parallel hatching is a wonderful representation of straw, while the overwhelming heat of the air is made palpable by the undulations of the brush. As for the rings of the characters, they discreetly recall the influence of Gauguin.


  • Title: The Siesta
  • Creator: Vincent Van Gogh
  • Physical Dimensions: 73 cm x 91 cm
  • Provenance: Paris, musée d'Orsay
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Photo (C) Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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