The Harvest, 1888

When the wheat in Arles was ripe in June 1888, Vincent did not want to waste the opportunity to embark on a series of paintings. He worked feverishly and ‘The Harvest’ may be the best of this series in Arles. True to his own disbelief, he was rather content with this work. Along with the other canvases from the ‘oogst’ series, he put ‘the harvest’ on the terracotta-tiled floor of his studio and he had to confess ‘this last canvas kills the rest’.

From a high vantage point we look down on the plain called ‘La Crau’. The fields are bordered with a precision reminiscent of his beloved Japanese prints. At the immediate foreground, a country lane is running past a fence made of wooden sticks, tied together. This fence and the herbs in front of it are painted in impasto which is directly contrasted by the blue green sky, painted with thin, flat, transparent touches. An immense sensation of depth and distance is created by the composition itself.  Reinforced by the experience of the impasto in the foreground, the pictorial space is made palpable, an effect that is all but lost in a normal, flat reproduction. 
By Fred Leeman Former Chief Curator of the Van Gogh Museum 21-09-2015