Van Gogh is one of the most famous painters in the world. Reproductions of his work adorn many homes and offices and the originals are priceless museum pieces. He also created more than 2,000 pieces of art during his 10 year period of activity. This includes around 900 paintings.
With this high volume of work, it’s hard to give equal attention to all of them. This is why there’s a select number of masterpieces that we pay attention to. However, there are plenty of pieces that deserve a level of recognition that we don’t always give them.
1. Still Life with Blue Enamel Coffeepot, Earthenware, and Fruit, 1888
Van Gogh is well known for his ability and willingness to play with colors. During his Dutch years, he used a tonal palette. This meant he used a pretty limited palette – it was a technique that was very popular at the time among Barbizon painters. It was also often called on by The Hague School artists.
Around 1885, though, he started playing with a new technique and color theory. This was used by the French painter Eugene Delacroix that played with complementary colors.
The idea behind what Delacroix wrote was that complementary colors – red, blue, and yellow – has a complementary tone that was a mix of the other two. For instance, the complementary tone to red is green. Still Life with Blue Enamel Coffeepot, Earthenware, and Fruit is one piece that showed his crude approach to this theory.
2. La Berceuse Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle, 1889
Van Gogh has a lot of portraits in his portfolio. The ones we pay attention to the most are the most numerous – his self-portraits. This was due to his limited funds to hire models. This means that the portraits of others he did do were of people he was acquainted with or close to. His style wasn’t a simple photo to painting either. They had unique qualities that give a personal flair rather than a photocopy.
This portrait of Madame Roulin was done after the birth of her third child. It was meant to capture the motherly aura of the subject. This was a pretty important piece to Van Gogh personally and there are more than five versions of it.
3. Crab On Its Back, 1888
This seems like an odd choice for a subject but that’s part of the charm of this painting. The unique situation that brought this subject to Van Gogh’s eye brings us a completely unmatched painting.
Consider the feeling you have when you see an animal stuck on its back. This is a big part of what Van Gogh wanted to capture. You can look through his repertoire to see his sympathy for everything around him from this piece to ones with lines of impoverished subjects. This painting shows that his sympathy extends to all living things and he really captures the feeling of helplessness.
4. Road with Cypress and Star (Country Road In Provence by Night), 1890
For a time, Van Gogh moved to Paris and tried to establish himself among Parisian painters such as Bernard and Gauguin. He exchanged communications with Bernard and he even studied under Gauguin for a while.
Unfortunately, when Van Gogh unveiled The Starry Night to them, they were unimpressed. In return, Van Gogh rejected both of them and their practices. It was a rare letter to Gauguin that he discussed Road with Cypress and Star with him. He referred to it as his last attempt to try and draw a star painting.
You can see quite a difference between this piece and The Starry Night. The setting is much more populated than the former painting. It has a road, house, and even people walking around. It’s a completely new face to a revisited concept.
5. Woman Walking In a Garden, 1887
There are a lot of Van Gogh’s works that have a melancholy or even sad air to them. His painting Woman Walking In a Garden, on the other hand, was a much more lighthearted piece. It has a bright, warm feeling and when you look at it you can almost feel the sun shining down on you. It’s a rare treat to see a more uplifted side of Van Gogh since a lot of his work – especially earlier work – focused on more harsh realities.
Vincent Van Gogh is a name that has been and will continue to be a giant in art history. With so many paintings under his belt, there’s always something new to see even if you’re a long-time fan. These are just five of his works that don’t get enough attention. If you’re interested in these paintings and learning more, take the time to dive deeper into the works of Van Gogh!