About this artwork

The writhing brushwork and strident colours contribute to the painting's powerful impact. Van Gogh was fascinated by the gnarled structures and changing colours of olive trees. He was also fully aware of their association with the story of Christ's Passion and the episode of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. This picture is one of at least fourteen canvases of olive trees Van Gogh painted while in the asylum at Saint-Remy, and its intense character may well reflect the artist's agitated state of mind.

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Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh's brilliant, emotionally charged paintings are the most well known of all Post-Impressionist works. Born in Holland, the son of a pastor, he tried picture dealing, teaching and book selling, before training for the ministry. After dismissal from a mission in Belgium he concentrated on painting. His arrival in Paris in 1886 and his contact with the Impressionist painters made a dramatic impact on his work. Van Gogh's concern with light and colour led him to the south of France, where his paintings began to reflect his increasingly disturbed state of mind. He died after shooting himself in July 1890.