Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890), 'Houses at Auvers.' Oil on canvas, 1890. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1935.5
"Auvers is very beautiful, among other things a lot of old thatched roofs, which are getting rare; for really it is profoundly beautiful, it is the real country, characteristic and picturesque," Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother and sister-in-law after the painter's arrival in Auvers-sur-Oise on 20 May 1890. Working in a hamlet called Chaponval in the western part of Auvers, van Gogh painted a cluster of dwellings nestled amid walled gardens and trees silhouetted against a gray-blue, cloudy sky. These homes still exist (though now altered) along the Rue de Gré.
The juxtaposition of the blue tiled roof of the central cottage with the thatched roofs of the other houses doubtless intrigued van Gogh (he in fact made a related reference to such a comparison in one of his letters). He varied his brushstrokes in order to call attention to the differing textures. He used sideways strokes for the roof of the central house to mimic the appearance of its tiling, while he applied downward strokes to express the materiality of the thick bundles of thatching. In contrast, the vegetation throughout is represented with van Gogh's typical curvilinear, animated forms.
Print Size: 22 x 18.5"