Vincent Van Gogh painted “The Red Vineyard” in November of 1888. It was supposedly his only painting that he sold during his lifetime. It was sold to Anna Boch, who was an impressionist painter and art collector, at the annual exhibition of the artist group called “Les XX”. The group was composed of 20 Belgian artists who are now considered some of the world’s greatest artists in history. Included in the group, in addition to Vincent Van Gogh, was the likes of Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cezanne.
The painting was sold for about 400 francs in 1890, which is equivalent to about $1,000 today. The painting is now stored at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. Although the painting has never been put up for sale and it would be difficult to estimate its value, Van Gogh’s paintings have sold from $60 to $140 million.
Interpretation of The Red Vineyard
Van Gogh was living in Arles, France in 1888 with Paul Gauguin. He had written a letter to his brother Theo, who was an art dealer in Paris, stating that he was working on a vineyard painting that he had painted from memory after an evening stroll,
a red vineyard, all red like red wine. In the distance it turned to yellow and then a green sky with the sun, the earth after the rain violet, sparkling here and there where it caught the reflection of the setting sun.
The low evening sun to the west and the shadow of the man standing on the road suggests that the vineyard is north facing. The shimmering road and the bright yellow reflection of the sun on the road suggests that the road is very wet and that there might have been a heavy rain recently. The muddy areas in the foreground also hint at the wet conditions.
All the women that are in the foreground picking the grapes are bent over from the hip, suggesting an air of hard work and that perhaps it was demanded of them from the figure on the road standing watch over them. Bending over from the hip would have been extremely difficult on the lower back and the women would have been exhausted after a day picking.
While the yellow, orange and reds of the painting captured a beautiful and vibrant natural setting, it also contrasts with the toiling of the women. This is consistent with most of Van Gogh’s paintings in that there was always a sense of melancholy, whether subtle or obvious.