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Name: The Starry Night
Artist: Vincent van Gogh
Year: 1889
Media: Oil on canvas
Locaton:Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  

The Starry Night

   The Starry Night is an oil on canvas by the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, it depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village.It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941, acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. It is regarded as among Van Gogh's finest works, and is one of the most recognized paintings in the history of Western culturebr />

In the aftermath of the 23 December 1888 breakdown that resulted in the self-mutilation of his left ear,Van Gogh voluntarily admitted himself to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole lunatic asylum on 8 May 1889.Housed in a former monastery, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole catered to the wealthy and was less than half full when Van Gogh arrived,[11] allowing him to occupy not only a second-story bedroom but also a ground-floor room for use as a painting studio.

During the year Van Gogh stayed at the asylum, the prolific output of paintings he had begun in Arles continued.During this period, he produced some of the best-known works of his career, including the Irises from May 1889, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the blue self-portrait from September, 1889, in the Musée d'Orsay. The Starry Night was painted mid-June by around 18 June, the date he wrote his brother Theo to say he had a new study of a starry sky

Although The Starry Night was painted during the day in Van Gogh's ground-floor studio, it would be inaccurate to state that the picture was painted from memory. The view has been identified as the one from his bedroom window, facing east,a view which Van Gogh painted variations of no fewer than twenty-one times,[citation needed] including The Starry Night. "Through the iron-barred window," he wrote to his brother, Theo, around 23 May 1889, "I can see an enclosed square of wheat . . . above which, in the morning, I watch the sun rise in all its glory."

Van Gogh depicted the view at different times of day and under various weather conditions, including sunrise, moonrise, sunshine-filled days, overcast days, windy days, and one day with rain. The hospital staff did not allow Van Gogh to paint in his bedroom, but he was able to make sketches in ink or charcoal on paper, and eventually he would base newer variations on previous versions. The pictorial element uniting all of these paintings is the diagonal line coming in from the right depicting the low rolling hills of the Alpilles mountains. In fifteen of the twenty-one versions, cypress trees are visible beyond the far wall enclosing the wheat field. Van Gogh telescoped the view in six of these paintings, most notably in Wheat Field with Cypresses and The Starry Night, bringing the trees closer to the picture plane.[citation needed]

One of the first paintings of the view was Mountainous Landscape Behind Saint-Rémy, now in Copenhagen. Van Gogh made a number of sketches for the painting, of which The Enclosed Wheatfield After a Storm is typical. It is unclear whether the painting was made in his studio or outside. In his June 9 letter describing it, he mentions he had been working outside for a few days Van Gogh described the second of the two landscapes he mentions he was working on in a letter to his sister Wil on 16 June 1889.This is Green Field, now in Prague, and the first painting at the asylum he definitely painted outside en plein air.Wheat field, Saint-Rémy de Provence, now in New York, is a study for it. Two days later, Vincent wrote Theo that he had painted "a starry sky".

The Starry Night is the only nocturne in the series of views from his bedroom window. In early June, Vincent wrote to Theo, "This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big" Researchers have determined that Venus was indeed visible at dawn in Provence in the spring of 1889 and at that time was near its brightest possible. So the brightest "star" in the painting, just to the viewer's right of the cypress tree, is actually Venus.

The moon is stylized, as astronomical records indicate that the moon was waning gibbous at the time Van Gogh painted the picture.Even if the phase of the moon had been a waning crescent at the time, Van Gogh's moon is not astronomically correct. (For other interpretations of the moon, see below.) The one pictorial element that was definitely not visible from Van Gogh's cell is the village,which is based on a sketch F1541v made from a hillside above the village of Saint-Rémy.Pickvance thought F1541v was done later and the steeple more Dutch than Provençal, a conflation of several Van Gogh had painted and drawn in his Nuenen period, and thus the first of his "reminisces of the North" he was to paint and draw early the following year.Hulsker thought a landscape on the reverse was also a study for the painting

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