The Flowering Orchard, 1888. Vincent van Gogh. Oil on canvas. The Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ittleson Jr. Purchase Fund, 1956.
The arrival of spring in Arles in 1888 found Van Gogh "in a fury of work." As he wrote to his brother Theo, "the trees are in blossom and I would like to do a Provençal orchard of tremendous gaiety." Between late March and late April, the artist dedicated fourteen canvases to the subject, working in a range of sizes, formats, and styles. This composition, dominated by the angular, elongated branches of the budding trees, attests to Van Gogh’s admiration for Japanese prints. His inclusion of the scythe and rake makes this one of only two orchard paintings to hint at a human presence.