Wheatfield with Crows, 1890 by Vincent Van Gogh

2) Perhaps due to the influence of his short-lived ministry studies, Van Gogh's depiction of wheat in his paintings reflects spiritual and secular symbolism. In 1889, the year prior to when he completed "Wheatfield with Crows," the artist wrote that wheat is not only people's primary form of sustenance but is also symbolic the ripening and reaping of human life. Wheat is symbolic of celestial love in the Christian tradition, and to Van Gogh, it also represented the fruits of honest, manual labor.

3) During June and July 1890, the final months Van Gogh was alive, he painted on double-square canvases, which are a combination of two 50 x 100 cm canvases, and "Wheatfield with Crows" is no exception.

4) The luminescence of such later Van Gogh paintings as "Wheatfield with Crows" and Starry Night has a turbulent visual effect that some believe reflects the artist's state of mind during the final months of his life. The luminescent quality of the wheat suggests strong motion while the crows flying randomly above echo and add to the turbulence of the scene.

5) In a July 10, 1890, letter to his brother Theo and sister-in-law, Vincent wrote that his wheat field paintings beneath turbulent skies are meant to express the sadness and extreme loneliness that conveyed what he felt but couldn't put into words.

6) Mathematicians have commented on the proximity between the turbulence in Van Gogh's later works and the mathematical principle of hydrodynamic turbulence and the velocity of its flow. This may suggest that the artist took an instinctively scientific approach to his visual expression.

7) In "Wheatfield with Crows", Van Gogh expressed his darkest premonitions. Critics tend fairly unanimously to detect a sense of menace in the dark birds flying from the horizon towards the foreground. They see the three paths as symbolic of Van Gogh's feeling that he had nowhere to go, no way of escape. The whole mood of darkness, they claim, is reinforced by the stormy sky, which supplies so powerful a contrast to the yellow wheat.

8) Perhaps the most powerful creature within the image is the crows themselves. The crows in the painting represent resurrection, according to art critics, but historically, crows can also be harbingers of bad luck and/or death. Jules Michelet, one of van Gogh's favorite authors, wrote of crows: "They interest themselves in everything, and observe everything. The ancients, who lived far more completely than ourselves in and with nature, found it no small profit to follow, in a hundred obscure things where human experience as yet affords no light, the directions of so prudent and sage a bird."

9) As he stated in a letter in July 1890, Vincent had planned to bring some of his latest work, including the "Wheatfield with Crows," to Paris later to show his brother. He would die before he had the chance.

10) "Wheatfield with Crows" is mentioned in a 2010 song by the Shahmen called "Van Gogh's Crows." Clint Mansell recorded his song, "Wheatfield with Crows" on his "Loving Vincent" album, which was released in 2017.