'Almond Blossom' represents much of what Vincent often thought about: rebirth. Trees blooming and flowering announces the beginning of spring and new life. As a gift to celebrate the birth of a child, this could not be more perfect.
On January 31, 1890, Theo wrote to Vincent of the birth of his son, whom he had named Vincent Willem. Van Gogh, who was extremely close to his younger brother, immediately set about making him a painting of his favorite subject: blossoming branches against a blue sky and visit his brother in Paris.
The gift was meant to hang over the couple’s bed. As a symbol of this new life, Vincent chose an almond tree, which blooms early in southern regions, announcing the coming spring as early as February.
Knowing that he was still trying to overcome his mental health issues, he was aware that a trip to a big city could be taxing. He hoped his time in the asylum would enable him to start again, feeling well. He often wrote that he felt better after being in the hospital.
In May of 1890, he was able to leave Saint Paul’s in Saint-Remy and see his family; at this time he brought his painting of the almond tree. Unfortunately, his mental health continued to deteriorate, and he would die less than three months later in the summer of 1890.
It is not shown whether these branches are cut from the tree and sitting in a vase outside of the view of the viewer or if they are still on the tree, seen from below looking up towards the sky. Almond Blossoms branches are twisted and gnarled like a complicated mind with few blossoms of hope.
A sudden departure from his colour palette, strokes and hues, Van Gogh has conjured up an entirely different painting. It shows how much gloom was in his life and a piece of small news made him paint in a different way, conveying a rare emotion that he felt.
Detail from Vincent van Gogh,"Almond Blossom",1890.
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