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"Van Gogh and the Labors of the Field"
2002-01-15 until 2002-06-09
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Van Gogh and the Labors of the Field is a small exhibition of five works that offers rich insight into the
ideals and creative aspirations of one of the most fabled artists in history—Vincent van Gogh
(1853-1890). The presentation features four figure paintings on loan from the Van Gogh Museum,
Amsterdam, displayed flanking Landscape at Saint-Remy (The Ploughed Field), the IMA's own work
by the Dutch Post-Impressionist master. Each canvas was created during the fall of 1889 while Van
Gogh was voluntarily confined to an asylum in Saint-Remy, a village in the Provencal region of
While in Saint-Remy, Van Gogh rarely had access to models and he often turned to making copies
after paintings and drawings by the artists who inspired him most, including Rembrandt van Rijn,
Eugene Delacroix and Jean-François Millet. Millet, a French painter of the Barbizon School, was
celebrated for his heroic portrayals of the poor laborers of rural France. Working from reproductions,
Van Gogh made numerous copies after works by Millet, including ten small paintings based upon a
series of Millet's figure drawings titled Labors of the Field.
Seven of the ten works Van Gogh painted after Millet's Labors of the Fields are now in the collection
of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Four of these paintings are displayed flanking the IMA's own
Van Gogh, which depicts a laborer in the center of the rugged Provençal countryside. Van Gogh and
the Labors of the Field also includes the engraving of Millet's drawings from which Van Gogh worked,
as well as Peasant with a Wheelbarrow, an important painting by Millet from the IMA's permanent
collection that exemplifies the artist's devotion to the theme of the laborer.
Vincent van Gogh
The Sheep Shearers (after Millet)
oil on canvas, 17 1/4 x 11 5/8 in.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)