Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to one and all!

One of my favorite paintings in the Van Gogh Museum is this lyrical little still life, a sprig of blossoming almond branch tucked in a glass of water. Vincent painted this in March 1888, not long after he arrived in Arles. He had expected sunny skies and mild weather, but Arles that winter was socked with rogue snowfall and oddly cold temperatures. Vincent never liked the cold much and so opted to paint indoors on the chilliest days. He brought nature inside, though, in the form of the almond branch. For Vincent, the blossoming fruit trees around Arles were symbols of new life and new beginnings--appropriate symbols for him as he sought to begin a new life away from the strains of Paris. Appropriate symbols, too, for our New Year.

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