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Winter (The Vicarage Garden under Snow), Probably January 1885, Nuenen

Vincent van Gogh
Dutch, 1853-1890
Oil on canvas, mounted to panel
23 x 31-1/8 in. (58.4 x 79.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on View

Van Gogh’s father was a Protestant minister; the artist himself had studied theology and pursued missionary work briefly before settling with his parents in the vicarage of a remote Dutch town in 1883. In this view across the vicarage garden, a lone figure clears a path, though the leafless bushes—or perhaps markers—at left give us pause: is this man shoveling snow, or digging a grave? From bare trees to dirty snow, to wintry, scumbled sky, the landscape is willfully, unremittingly bleak, a painted equivalent to Émile Zola’s grim Naturalist novels of the same period.

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