“Van Gogh and the Labours of the Field” is a small exhibition of five works held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art until June 9th 2002 that offers rich insight into the ideals and creative aspirations of one of the most fabled artists in history—Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890).
The presentation features four figure paintings on loan from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, displayed flanking “Landscape at Saint-Remy” (The Ploughed Field), the IMA's own work by the Dutch Post-Impressionist master.
Each canvas was created during the fall of 1889 while Van Gogh was voluntarily confined to an asylum in Saint-Remy, a village in the Provencal region of southern France.
While in Saint-Remy, Van Gogh rarely had access to models and often turned to making copies after paintings and drawings by the artists who inspired him most, including Rembrandt van Rijn, Eugene Delacroix and Jean-François Millet, a French painter of the Barbizon School, who was celebrated for his heroic portrayals of the poor labourers of rural France.
Working from reproductions, Van Gogh made numerous copies after works by Millet, including ten small paintings based upon a series of Millet's figure drawings titled “Labours of the Field”.
Seven of the ten works Van Gogh painted after Millet's “Labours of the Fields” are now in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Four of these paintings are displayed flanking the IMA's own Van Gogh, which depicts a labourer in the centre of the rugged Provençal countryside. “Van Gogh and the Labours of the Field” also includes the engraving of Millet's drawings from which Van Gogh worked, as well as “Peasant with a Wheelbarrow”, an important painting by Millet from the IMA's permanent collection that exemplifies the artist's devotion to the theme of the labourer.