They say when you are about to die, your entire life flashes in front of you. May be that’s what happened with Vincent Van Gogh when he did Road with Cypress and Star, which was the last painting he ever made.
He was an artist who could only sell one painting in his whole life. He was rejected and unrecognized for all the great work he did till the moment he died. The rejection lead to depression which in turn lead him to St Remy asylum where he spent the last few months of his life, and that is where he drew this painting.
About the Road with Cypress and Star
In case the painting does look similar to you and you are not able to figure out why, let me help you out - It’s a clear homage to his world famous painting, The Starry Night.
|The Starry Night|
Just like the bright night, Van Gogh also painted cypresses quite a few times. In this painting, its as if the cypress, which extends well beyond the canvas, is trying to divide the sky. At one side is a bright star and at the other side is the new crescent moon.
There is the big road with a white horse carriage in the background and two men walking away. It feels as if they are done with all their work and signing off. Some analysts say that Van Gogh drew two people to depict companionship which he never got in life. I think it could be true because Vincent himself referred to the two walkers as ‘very romantic.’
There are also similar patterns all around the sky, which is a signature Van Gogh style that can also be seen in Evening Landscape with Rising Moon. Some people think he drew concentric patterns because there was too much chaos going on in his head, but there is no scientific backing for it.
My favourite part of the painting is of course the bright star which forces you to stare at it for eternity
My thoughts on the painting
While the whole world sees the moon as boring, pale, and silver, Van Gogh saw the moon as a bright yellow and orange ball of energy. When you look at the world from Van Gogh’s eyes, the stars in the sky are not small twinkly things, they are just as bright as the moon.
It’s so fascinating that even though Van Gogh had no idea that people would come to recognize and love The Starry Night, his last painting was a homage to his most popular painting in the world. It was as if he knew the legacy he was leaving behind and he wanted to remind people of that.
In one of his last letters to Paul Gauguin, who he had a very tumultuous relationship with, Van Gogh wrote:
A last try – a night sky with a moon without brightness, the slender crescent barely emerging from the opaque projected shadow of the earth – a star with exaggerated brightness, if you like, a soft brightness of pink and green in the ultramarine sky where clouds run.