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Van Gogh’s Starry Night is one of the most famous artworks of all time. It has been reproduced in a thousand ways, on a thousand occasions, with thousands of styles, but there are still many unknown aspects hidden behind the brushstrokes of this picture. That is why from OLGAGUARCH we dedicate this article to the 10 things you didn’t know about Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

  1. The painter decided to paint this landscape during his stay in Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, where he was hospitalized for mental problems, with the views he could appreciate from his window. In one of the letters in the correspondence with his brother Theo, Vincent writes “This morning I saw the countryside before dawn from my window, with nothing but the morning star, which was very large”.
  2. Even so, he did not reproduce the landscape exactly, and simply took it as inspiration. For example, and evidently, he did not draw the bars of the window that separated his room from freedom, and so he explains it to Theo writing to him in 1889; “Through the crowded window, I can see a wheat field above which, in the morning, I can see the sun rising in all its splendor”.
  3. The town that appears in the background of the painting, Saint-Remy, is another of the mysteries of the work, since according to historians, it was impossible for the painter to appreciate the city from such a long distance, and they believe that he was simply inspired by his native Holland when it came to including this element.
  4. There are theories that claim that the painting symbolizes death, since the cypresses that appear in it are usually associated with cemeteries.
  5. Before painting The Starry Night, Van Gogh was already fixated on nocturnal landscapes, which aroused in him great passion and curiosity. In fact, a year before finishing this painting, he created another work entitled Starry Night over the Rhone, and before that, Terrace of a Café at Night.
  6. Van Gogh claimed that he never liked Starry Night, nor any of the works he produced during his stay at the Saint-Remy asylum, and assured his brother in one of his letters that the paintings he really liked were The Wheatfield, The Mountain, The Orchard, The Olive Trees with Blue Hills, The Portrait and The Entrance to the Quarry, and that the rest did not convey anything to him.
  7. Albert Boime, a historian who compared the work with a map of the sky on the same date that Starry Night was painted – June 9, 1889 – discovered that Van Gogh happened to paint the planet Venus, “the dawn star” that he described to his brother Theo in one of his letters.
  8. Red Vineyard and The Starry Night were the only two paintings sold by the artist during his lifetime, the latter being bought by a British collector whose identity is unknown. The former was acquired by Anna Boch for the total sum of 400 francs in 1890.
  9. After his death and that of his brother, Johanna Gezina Van Gogh-Bonger -Vincent’s sister-in-law- inherited all of Van Gogh’s works in 1891, and began to manage the publicity and correspondence of the paintings, promoting the painter to fame. Thus, Starry Night was sold in 1900 to the French poet Julien Leclerq, who later sold it to the post-impressionist artist Émile Schuffenecker, and then, six years later, it was recovered by Johanna and given to the Oldenzeel Gallery in Rotterdam.
  10. The Starry Night was presented to the public for the first time in 1931, at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, thanks to Lillie P. Bliss, daughter of a textile merchant and collector of modern art. Together with Mary Quinn Sullivan and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, they founded the museum. Lillie donated most of her collection to the institution, and decided to sell them The Starry Night in the 41st of the same century.