The Garden at Arles, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh

This was one of two paintings that Van Gogh made of the garden at Arles within the same month, which was not unusual. He often made several paintings of one motif rapidly and within the same time frame, before moving on to a different subject, although he invariably returned to the old motif again at a later date. This system of painting was of huge importance to the Impressionists, who were concerned with conveying the changing light on the motif. It is interesting because it affords one the different views of the subject, and shows the artist working through an idea. In a sense it provided something of the creative process that drove him.

This painting has a very decorative feel, and shows Van Gogh experimenting with the Pointillist theories of his friend Signac and of Seurat. He has used small, short brushstrokes, loaded with pure and brilliant colour in a very controlled manner, Every stroke here is important to the overall design, and the painting does very much reflect a sense of 'design' rather than actual pictorial reality. Van Gogh drew with his paint, so that his pictures appear to evolve with a freedom not seen in works that are based on under drawings,