#FridayPainting: Vincent Van Gogh “Tree Roots” His Last Painting

What can be done – you see I usually try to be quite good-humoured, but my life, too, is attacked at the very root, my step also is faltering. I feared – not completely – but a little nonetheless – that I was a danger to you, living at your expense – but Jo’s letter clearly proves to me that you really feel that for my part I am working and suffering like you.

Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Auvers-sur-Oise, on or about Thursday 10 July 1890.

Vincent Van Gogh Last Painting

Wheat Field with Crows, painted in July of 1890 and one of Van Gogh’s paintings of the fields surrounding Auvers-sur-Oise, is frequently believed to be his last painting. But according to the Van Gogh Museum “Wheatfield with Crows is one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings. It is often claimed that this was his very last work. The menacing sky, the crows and the dead-end path are said to refer to the end of his life approaching. But that is just a persistent myth. In fact, he made several other works after this one.”

On July 28, 2020, an event was held to reveal what is regarded as Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting. This from the Van Gogh Museum:

28 July 2020: Today in Auvers-sur-Oise a ceremony took place to reveal the place where 130 years ago, shortly before his suicide, Vincent van Gogh painted his final masterpiece, ‘Tree Roots’. In attendance were Emilie Gordenker, the general director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and Willem van Gogh, the great-grandson of Vincent’s brother Theo. Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Frantically and fervently rooting itself, as it were, in the earth, and yet being half torn up by the storm. I wanted to express something of life’s struggle, both in that white, slender female figure and in those gnarled black roots with their knots. Or rather, because I tried without any philosophizing to be true to nature, which I had before me, something of that great struggle has come into both of them almost inadvertently. At least it seemed to me that there was some sentiment in it, though I may be mistaken, anyway, you’ll have to see for yourself.”

To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, Monday, 1 May 1882.

Google Arts & Culture provides an augmented and street view of Tree Roots that takes you to the Van Gogh Museum

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

32 thoughts on “#FridayPainting: Vincent Van Gogh “Tree Roots” His Last Painting

    1. Robbie – you are NOT philistine!!! You bring up an brilliant point about understanding creativity and art that has been in my mind over the years. Anton Chekhov wrote: “The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” My questions come from several perspectives, two of them being:

      1) How can I appreciate art that does not appeal to me? How can I see the artwork in a new way to understand what the artist is trying to convey?

      2) If I disagree with an artist’s philosophy, how will that influence my view of his/her artwork?

      My appreciation of Vincent van Gogh’s work stems from his keen insight on art. “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” Vincent Van Gogh.

      Many thanks for your insightful comments – very much appreciated.


    1. It was the first time that I saw this painting, too, Mary Jo. Most of us are familiar with Vincent’s sunflowers and starry nights, but there is so much more that is yet to explore. I am delighted that I found his letters at the Van Gogh Museum.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for your sharing this painting with us, reported to be the last of his great, lovely paintings that have been admired through the years. It is sad that this was his last before he took his own life. I appreciated finding this podcast here, since I commented else where before being able to see the painting clearly in this enlarged form. This is truly a beautiful painting, so sad that he was so unhappy and that his life was cut short, such a tragedy! I feel for his brother, whose love that they shared seemed to be sincere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this painting and post, Frances. I read that are 844 surviving letters that van Gogh wrote. Vincent wrote 663 of that 844 to his brother, Theo. He wrote 9 to Theo and his wife Jo. Jo had the foresight to collect Vincent’s paintings and letters. What we know of Vincent and his relationship to his brother is captured in these letters. I understand that there are only 39 surviving letters that were written by Theo to Vincent. I have yet to explore these letters.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for your visit, Marina. It came as a surprise to me as well, when I found that “Wheat fields with crows” was not his last painting. I agree that the roots of trees gathered together speak of a deeper and more intimate understanding of Vincent Van Gogh’s emotional outlook on his last days. Sending many hugs back your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never seen this painting before, but am familiar with “Wheat Fields with Crows” and thought that was his last. How interesting that his last one was the Earth and roots rather than the black crows and darkening skies. That’s quite a contrast. Thanks for the fascinating post, Rebecca.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted you enjoyed this post, Diana. When I was researching this painting, I came across the letters of Vincent Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum website. They have been translated into English and there are notations on the side to provide a context. Dear Vincent – he understood what it meant to endure and persevere.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your visit and comments, Colleen. The quote that I keep by my side is:

      “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” Vincent Van Gogh

      You said to me that everyone has poetry inside them and yet many (I include myself in this category) do not believe that they have the “gift.” I think that Vincent would agree with you. Creativity and love, together, are a dynamic strength that we can never underestimate.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rebecca, writing is a gift and writing is poetry. Poets find the beauty in the world and share it with others through the written word. You’re a poet… you just have to feel the words. You’re an excellent photographer. Writing poetry is much the same. It’s all perspective, aligning the words to reflect love and light. You do that every day! ❤️ And thanks for this reminder I needed to hear today.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Liz. His words “great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke” brings tears to my eyes. If only he could see his legacy and the gift he gave to the world. I found the letters of Vincent Van Gogh on the Van Gogh Museum website. I look forward to reading his thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I LOVE that quote, Liz!!! I agree wholeheartedly that there are two involved in a story. Did I tell you that recently read “Three Apples Fell from the Sky” by Narine Abgaryan which starts out with an Armenian saying:

        “Three apples fell from Heaven: one for the teller of a story, one for the listener, and the third for the one who ‘took it to heart.”

        Liked by 2 people

    1. “I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.” Vincent Van Gogh

      I imagine the conversations between Theo and Vincent and the love that they shared. It must have been extremely difficult for Theo to see his brother suffer. And yet, to the end, their love for each other came through and never wavered.

      Thank you, Cindy for your visit and comments – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

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