Wednesday, March 30, 2005

1853 Vincent van Gogh, painter (d. 1890).

The only painting he sold during his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, was created in 1888. It is now on display in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

Vincent and the Starry Night

There are some wonderful nights here, I must paint a starry night.
Vincent van Gogh, during his incarceration at the asylum at St Remy, France, in 1889

In 1889, at his own request, the painter was admitted to the psychiatric centre at the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône, France. Here, looking out his east-facing window, near dawn on the morning of June 19, 1889, he saw the blazing sky that he immortalized in the painting Starry Night. The painting is the subject of the well known song ‘Vincent’ or ‘Starry, Starry Night’ by Don McLean.

American art historian Dr Albert Boime enlisted the aid of astronomer Dr Ed Krupp from Griffith Observatory in California to recreate the night sky as it would have appeared to Van Gogh on the night he painted it and amazingly the basic image was the same (with the significant exception that the Moon on that night seems not to have been a crescent, but a gibbous moon). In the painting we see three stars of the constellation Aries as well as the Moon and Venus. There are eleven stars in total, reminiscent of the Biblical Joseph reporting his dream to his brothers:

And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
Genesis 37:9

(For those interested in doing their own calculations, Saint Remy de Provence is Lat: 43 deg 47 mins North; Long: 4 deg 49 mins East.)

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday) when you're there.


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