Art History Lab

Unraveling the Mystery of Vincent van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows

Vincent van Gogh is perhaps one of the most iconic artists of all time, with his paintings still captivating audiences to this day. His unique post-impressionist style, characterized by bold colors and expressive brushstrokes, immortalized his works and transformed the art world.

In this article, we delve into the life and art of Vincent van Gogh, exploring his early life, his significant contributions to art, and one of his most enigmatic paintings, Wheatfield with Crows.

Early Life and Career

Vincent van Gogh was born in Zundert, Brabant in 1853. He was the son of a minister and the second of six children.

Vincent had a penchant for art from a young age, but his family discouraged him from pursuing it as a career. Instead, he worked as an art dealer and a teacher before deciding to become an artist in his late 20s.

Van Gogh’s early works were heavily influenced by his Dutch heritage and featured muted colors and somber themes. However, he soon became interested in the post-impressionist movement, developing his unique, colorful style that would cement his legacy in the art world.


Post-impressionism was a movement that emerged in the late 19th century as a response to impressionism. Post-impressionist artists sought to move beyond just capturing the visual impression of a subject and instead used their art to express emotion and communicate an idea.

Vincent van Gogh was at the forefront of this movement, and his works are some of the best examples of post-impressionism. Van Gogh’s use of bold colors and thick, expressive brushstrokes distinguished his works.

His paintings were often strikingly different from anything else produced at the time, and they continue to inspire artists today.

Self-Expression through Artworks

One of the most significant contributions that Vincent van Gogh made to the art world was his ability to use his works as a means for self-expression. Van Gogh used his art to express his personal struggles, which included mental health issues, financial difficulties, and relationship troubles.

Many of his paintings are self-portraits, and they often depict a deeply personal struggle. By using art as a means of expressing his feelings, van Gogh not only created beautiful works of art, but he also used his art to help process his own emotions.

Wheatfield with Crows in Context

Wheatfield with Crows is perhaps one of van Gogh’s most enigmatic works. Completed just a few months before his death, the painting showcases a stark, empty landscape with a flock of crows flying overhead.

The painting was completed during a tumultuous period of van Gogh’s life. He had recently returned to Auvers-sur-Oise, where he had sought refuge with his friend Dr. Paul Gachet.

However, his mental health began to deteriorate, and he experienced frequent mental breakdowns in the weeks leading up to his death. The painting has been interpreted in many ways, with some suggesting that it reflects van Gogh’s despair and fear of death.

Others suggest that the painting symbolizes rebirth or the end of a cycle.

Wheatfield with Crows Symbolism

The crows in Wheatfield with Crows have been the subject of much discussion among art enthusiasts. Crows have long been associated with death, and some argue that the painting foreshadows van Gogh’s own death.

However, others argue that the painting is more complex than that and that the crows may represent something altogether different. The wheatfield itself is suggestive of fertility and growth, and some interpreters argue that the painting represents the end of one cycle and the start of a new one.

Others suggest that the painting reflects van Gogh’s own state of mind, with the crows being a metaphor for the artist’s thoughts and the wheatfield representing the peace van Gogh was searching for. Formal Analysis: Compositional Overview

The subject matter of Wheatfield with Crows is stark and simple, with a barren landscape and a sky full of crows.

However, the painting’s colors, textures, lines, shapes, form, and space all work together to create a sense of movement and depth. The textured brushstrokes of the wheatfield create a sense of movement, and the blue sky creates a backdrop for the crows’ flight.

The use of a variety of colors from the muted greens and browns of the wheatfield to the bright blues of the sky creates a contrasting yet harmonious whole.


Vincent van Gogh was a revolutionary artist whose work continues to inspire people all over the world. His use of bold colors and expressive brushstrokes, along with his willingness to express his own struggles through his art, transformed the art world and continues to captivate audiences to this day.

Wheatfield with Crows, one of his most enigmatic works, remains a testament to his enduring legacy. Vincent van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows is a mesmerizing work of art that evokes intense emotions.

The painting reflects a stark, empty landscape with a flock of crows flying overhead. In this expansion, we examine this iconic painting in greater detail, delving into its subject matter, colors, texture, line, shape and form, and space.

Subject Matter: Visual Description

Wheatfield with Crows is a landscape painting that depicts a golden wheatfield at sunset. In the foreground, a curving pathway leads the viewer’s attention into the painting’s depths.

The pathway splits into two directions, leading toward the different parts of the painting. On the left-hand side of the painting, there is a barren, dark field, while the right-hand side of the painting depicts a waving wheatfield.

Above the golden wheatfield is a dark blue sky with swirling clouds and a flock of black crows flying. The crows are in motion, and their flight creates the impression of a supernatural or ominous presence.


One of the most striking aspects of Wheatfield with Crows is the use of color. Van Gogh used a series of bold and vibrant colors to capture the movement and energy of the landscape.

The painting features a bright blue sky with intense yellows and greens in the wheatfield, making the work stand out. Van Gogh used reds and oranges in the clouds to create the impression of a fiery sky.

The crows are painted in black, giving a striking contrast to the bright colors of the landscape.


Van Gogh used a technique known as impasto, which involves the use of thick brushstrokes and paint that is raised on the canvas. The texture of Wheatfield with Crows is rich and varied, giving the impression of movement.

The use of impasto creates a sense of rhythm and motion in the wheatfield and clouds. The crows’ black feathers are painted thickly, contrasting with the surrounding gold and green of the wheatfield.


The painting is a combination of different lines, from vertical, to horizontal, to zigzag, and V-shapes. The vertical lines of the wheat stalks and the crows’ flight creating a sense of movement and upward motion.

The landscape’s horizontal lines, such as the wheatfield and the static horizon line, make the painting appear peaceful and nostalgic. The diagonal lines of the crows’ flight and the V shape of the path split into two directions are in conflict with the calm atmosphere of the painting, giving the impression of an untold story.

Shape and Form

The shapes in Wheatfield with Crows are organic and natural, evoking a sense of spontaneity and freedom. The wheat stalks and crows’ wings are circular and curved, creating a sense of harmony between the objects’ natural curves.

The brushstrokes create a distinctive texture that adds to the painting’s visual appeal. The brushstrokes in the foreground create impasto textures that resemble sandbanks.


Space in Wheat field with Crows is created through the different colors, contrasts of light and dark, and spatial distance between objects. The empty foreground and the illuminated wheatfield create a contrast between light and dark, giving each area of the painting a sense of movement.

The sky and the flying crows occupy the negative space, highlighting empty space, contrasting with the busy foreground.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wheatfield with Crows is a masterpiece of post-impressionism. Below are some frequently asked questions about this painting.

Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent van Gogh

Wheatfield with Crows is a massive oil on canvas painting measuring 50cm x 100cm, created in July 1890. It is currently held at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where it has been displayed for years.

The painting is one of the many great works in the series of landscapes that Vincent painted during his lifetime.

Painting Timeline

Wheatfield with Crows was the last painting Vincent van Gogh created before his death. He completed the canvas in July 1890, then shot himself just a month later.

The painting marked Vincent’s final art piece before his untimely passing. Other famous paintings he created during the same period of July 1890 include Daubignys Garden and Tree Roots.

Post-Impressionism Style

Van Gogh’s use of bright colors and bold brushstrokes characterizes the post-impressionist style that is defined by the movement’s attempt to move beyond the limits of impressionism. The post-impressionism style sought to express emotions and ideas through their art, rather than show an impression of the subject in life.

The use of color and texture are highly distinctive characteristics of post-impressionism, and Vincent van Gogh was a pioneer of the movement.


Wheatfield with Crows is a breathtaking painting by Vincent van Gogh that captures the essence of post-impressionism. The visually compelling artwork is characterized by bold colors, texture, line, shape and form, and space, giving it a sense of motion and emotion.

The combination of colors, shapes, and textures makes this painting one of the most iconic artworks in the world. Vincent’s distinct style of art and post-impressionism’s influence contributed to his legacy.

In conclusion, Vincent van Gogh was a master of post-impressionism, whose works continue to captivate people all over the world. Wheatfield with Crows, one of his final paintings, is a testament to his legacy.

Through examining the subject matter, color, texture, line, shape and form, and space of this painting, we gain a deeper understanding of van Gogh’s unique artistic style and his contribution to the art world. The painting is a demonstration of his ability to use color and texture to express emotions and communicate ideas.

This article highlights the significance of post-impressionism and van Gogh’s unwavering contribution to the art world.

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