Oil on canvas
19.9 in × 40.6 in
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
The theme of these last several posts is that the Unconscious is well aware that death is near, and that the last paintings of artists reflect that process and awareness.
Although there is debate about whether Van Gogh’s extraordinary painting Wheatfield with Crows was actually his very last painting, I think the debate is irrelevant. It was close enough to his death to be influenced by the process; it certain conveys very intense feelings and percpeptions in an archetypal way.
Van Gogh clearly was known to have experienced hallucinations and frequent nightmares, and obviously had a number of physical and emotional issues. From my viewpoint as a clinical psychologist, it feels as if he had some degree of bipolar illness, although there a numerous theories about such things.
Wikipedia has an entire entry devoted to Van Gogh’s health issues, including:
Perry in 1947 was the first to put together a serious case for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, or “manic depression.” It fits with the well documented periods of intense activity interspersed with periods of exhaustion and possible depression. It has been suggested that van Gogh was not just bipolar, but that the crises in his last two years were brought about by the additional effect of thujone poisoning from his consumption of absinthe. (Source)
Wheatfield with Crows is a July 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh.
It is commonly but mistakenly stated that this was Van Gogh’s last painting. Art historians are uncertain as to which painting was van Gogh’s last as no clear historical records exist.
A usual interpretation of this painting is that it shows Van Gogh’s troubled state of mind with a dark, forbidding sky, the indecision of three paths going in different directions and the black crows overhead being signs of foreboding or even death. He wrote that he had made three paintings in Auvers of large fields of wheat under troubled skies.
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