Van Gogh painted this arresting painting in the last few weeks of his life. He did a series of paintings of wheat fields around Auvers, of which Theresa May would be proud. This one, Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds, is quite arresting and took me by surprise.
In these landscapes he tried to express ‘sadness, extreme loneliness’. But the overwhelming emotions that Van Gogh experienced in nature were also positive. He wrote to his brother Theo, ‘I’d almost believe that these canvases will tell you what I can’t say in words, what I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside.’
The elongated format of Wheatfields under Thunderclouds is unusual. It emphasizes the grandeur of the landscape, as does the simple composition: two horizontal planes. Van Gogh Museum
This is a simple painting, covering two horizontal plains. It is painted with simple, visible brush strokes, yet I find it quite striking. The emotion in this piece is palpable. The movement of the clouds, both light and dark is haunting. It is advancing towards you as you are watching. You can almost see the curtain of rain in the distance. The wheat in the field is almost moving and you can see the wind taking the three in the bottom right.
There is something very moving in this painting, there is a brooding, almost menacing quality to it. The painting reflects what Van Gogh must have felt in the closing weeks of his life, a kind of loneliness and despair, but at the same time in his own words, it is meant to show us the restorative qualities of the countryside. In all, a fascinating work in the later period of Van Gogh’s life.