The Mulberry Tree in Autumn, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh reveled in the textural richness of oil paint. Called 'Impasto,' his application of the paint is so heavy in The Mulberry Tree in Autumn that it appears nearly three-dimensional. We cannot discern individual autumn leaves, for the tree limbs are like twisting yellow tentacles. The fiery branches reach upward and are framed by a brilliant blue sky created from thick, short strokes of blue paint. The space surrounding the tree is rendered with a dynamism that echoes the tree's electric energy. Short, thick brush strokes of lighter yellow, with intermittent strokes of green, light brown, and white constitute the rocky field described in van Gogh's letter. There is no human presence here, but the box which leans against the brown tree trunk suggests that the land has been or will be worked and harvested.

In The Mulberry Tree in Autumn, an ordinary tree is painted in an extraordinary way. While it attests to van Gogh's keen observation of the tree and its natural surroundings, this painting is no mere record of sheer visual observation. Rather, van Gogh's vibrant color and vigorous brush strokes express his passionate feelings about what he saw. This painting was so important to van Gogh that he wrote about it three times in letters to his brother and sister, commenting that he believed it was the best of his mulberry tree paintings.