Straw-Roofed Houses, 1890 by Vincent van Gogh

Although Van Gogh's move to the south of France had been the realization of a dream, the dream had shattered over time. However, his return to the north was a change that he embraced, and he described how his time in the south of France had allowed him to better appreciate the north. This was an extraordinarily positive and surprising view from the artist, who was dealing with such a debilitating mental illness.

On his arrival at Auvers he threw himself into his work with characteristic enthusiasm and began a number of drawings as well as working on his painting. The graphic quality is evident in this painting, seen in his use of a fine brush to virtually draw in details such as brickwork, chimneys and foliage over areas of colour wash. There is a crescendo of movement that travels up the canvas from the blank bottom corner through the house and garden to the expressive trees and culminating in the swirling, tumultuous sky. The curved organic shapes seen in the trees and sky were something that he had been using increasingly, stylizing the natural form and creating pattern from the landscape.