The Olive Grove that Inspired Van Gogh

Van Gogh’s Olive Grove with two olive pickers

Van Gogh’s Olive Grove with two olive pickers

OK, so it wasn’t in New Zealand, but the emotion behind it is just the same. The fact is, Van Gogh was truly inspired by these beautiful trees. He even wrote to his brother (Theo) about them. “If I remain here I wouldn’t try to paint a Christ in the Garden of Olives, but in fact the olive picking as it’s still seen today and then giving the correct proportions of the human figure in it, that would perhaps make people think of it all the same.”

As author Ted Snell point out, “Van Gogh became enthralled by the gnarled, scarred olive trees that were just beginning to bear fruit. In the next six months, he painted this grove of olive trees on 18 separate occasions.”

For more on Van Gogh’s fascination with Olive Trees, check out this excellent article.

I’m working on a painting at the moment, women picking olives … These are the colours: the field is violet, and further away yellow ochre, the olive trees with bronze trunks have grey-green foliage, the sky is entirely pink, and small figures pink also. There are only two notes, pink and green, which harmonize, neutralize each other, oppose each other. I’ll probably do 2 or three repetitions of it, for, in fact, it’s the result of a half-dozen studies of olive trees.
— Vincent Van Gogh
Women Picking Olives by Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

Women Picking Olives by Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

Chris Corradino