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2 November 2020


Starry night – Vincent Van Gogh

by Ramona Lucarelli

My sad illness makes me work with dull fury, very slowly, but from morning to night without
interruption… I believe this will help heal me.

These lines belong to one of the numerous letters that Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) wrote to his
brother Theo during his stay at the psychiatric hospital of Sàint-Rémy de Provence. From the
beginning of 1889 Vincent was hospitalized several times for excesses of madness and on May 8 of
that year he decided to be interned in a clinic for the insane, after mutilating his left ear in Arles on
the evening of December 23, 1888. In the asylum of Sàint-Rémy he remains 53 weeks, in which he
paints 150 canvases.

It is precisely in a letter addressed to Theo that Van Gogh says he has just finished a canvas with a
starry sky:

Through the iron grates of the window, I can see a wheat field… on which, in the morning, I can see
the sun rising in all its splendor.

Vincent would draw and color this vision about 21 times, including the famous starry night.

What do we see when we look at his famous Night?

In the foreground there is a tall cypress tree while in the background the hills welcome a small town
from which the spire of a bell tower stands out. It is not a peaceful night. The elements of nature,
landscape and village seem to vibrate with a tortuous motion.

The night sky occupies two thirds of the space while the earth and the sky are connected by the tuft
of cypresses that rises from below on the left; calm is the earth asleep in darkness and sleep,
pulsating with energy and vitality, the night is crossed by the vibrant light of the stars.

It would be simple and it would be right, for the terrible things that happen during life, if this
existence had another invisible but true “hemisphere” where one arrives when one dies. […] Hope
is in the stars, and the Earth is a planet, and consequently a star or a celestial body.

The stars look like pulsating hearts while the crescent shape of the moon resembles a sun, creating
the sensation of their fusion. The colors yellow, orange and white give a different flavor to the
night, showing new and distant colors from the paintings of contemporary artists of Van Gogh.

Nature and darkness come together in this masterpiece 13 months before that July 29, 1890, the day
when Vincent goes to meet his desperate human pain.

“Starry Night (Cypress and Country)” (1889) is one of the artist’s masterpieces and is kept at the
Museum of Modern Art in New York.


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Ramona Lucarelli

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Ramona Lucarelli


She is an art historian, optimistic and empathic by nature. She imagines a world where sow kindness enjoying the little things. She's in love with stories since she was a child, for the Eat Culture she eats books and arts. Per aspera ad astra says the only tattoo on her skin. It reminds her that the road that leads to her dreams is not always easy but that she never gives up.

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