Van Gogh at the National Gallery
‘Yellow is the embodiment of the utmost clarity of Love.’
Late spring, torrential rain, noon and rivulets swept us into the National Gallery, London. Inside it was dark, in a cathartic way, the whole city being rather glorious in muted, damp subduity which flowed effortlessly into each and every room. It was immensely satisfying to be participating in this noir midday with vehement Masters of Art and the palette rarely changed until, ‘Fourteen Sunflowers in a Vase,’ 1888.
‘I am thinking of decorating my studio with half-a-dozen pictures of sunflowers.’
Van Gogh had rented the Yellow House, Arles, in late Spring too, May to be exact. It was to be his studio and he was preparing for the arrival of fellow Impressionist Gauguin, wanting, more than anything else in the world, to impress him. And so, with obsessive zeal he began to paint these studies.
‘the same kind of effect as Gothic church windows.’
Perhaps it was the day, I was drunk on a storm, but I have never felt so intensely drawn to a painting glimpsed out of the corner of my eye. Aureolin, maize, flax, beige, buff, citrine, lemon, cream and gold, gold, gold.
‘I should like to paint in so simple a way that anyone with eyes can see clearly what is meant.’
Van Gogh, you have. Brilliance, sheer brilliance.