I’ve been working on a number of different writing projects for years: a book of poetry, a history of my region and a couple of novels. At one point in one of the novels, the heroine (protagonist) is going through a time of dissolution. “Van Gogh she still believed in,” I have have written of her (most effective sentence, wouldn’t you say?!!!)
Sadly, on this day in 1890, the great artist ceased to believe in himself, dying of a self inflicted gunshot wound.
There are two possible candidates for Van Gogh’s “suicide note”, his very last painting.
The first is “The Church at Arles” (bottom), a bleak and haunting image with a frowning wrinkled sky. But, my money is on “Wheatfield with Crows”. There are so many elements of a typical Van Gogh: that signature purple blue outlines around things, the familiar blue and gold palette. Missing utterly, though, are any personal symbols from this, the most personal of painters.
In one of his last letters to his brother Theo, Van Gogh says that he fears that his depression is returning and remarks, “I cannot go through this again.”
And so the mind that crafted so much heaven … in fields, in orchards, in flowers, in other people’s faces … could not face its own return to hell.