The Red Vineyard – Van Gogh …..continued from
“….Vincent walked through a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets. After a long climb, he reached the sun-scorched Place de la Mairie. In order to keep out the maddening sun, the alleys had been made so narrow that Vincent could touch both rows of houses with outstretched fingertips. ….he sat on a block of stone, dangled his legs over a sheer drop of hundreds of feet, lit his pipe, and surveyed the domain of which he had appointed himself lord and master. The town below him flowed down abruptly to the Rhone like a kaleidoscopic waterfall. The roofs of the houses were fitted into each other in an intricate design. The had all been tilled in what was originally red clay, but the burning,incessant sun had baked them to a maze of every colour, from the lightest lemon and delicate shell pink to a biting lavender and earthy loam brown.
..But it was the color of the countryside that made him run a hand over his bewildered eyes. The sky was so intensely blue, such a hard, relentless, profound blue that it was not blue at all ; it was utterly colorless. The green of the fields that stretched below him was the essence of the color green, gone mad. The burning lemon-yellow of the sun, the blood-red of the soil, the crying whiteness of the lone cloud over Montmajour, the ever reborn rose of the orchards….such colourings were incredible. How could he paint them ? How could he ever make anyone believe that they existed, even if he could transfer them to his palette? Lemon, blue, green, red, rose; nature run rampant in five torturing shades of expression…..
As the summer advanced, everything became burnt up. He saw about him nothing but old gold, bronze, and copper, covered by a greenish azure sky of blanched heat. There was sulphur-yellow on everything the sunlight hit. His canvases were masses of bright burning yellow. He knew that yellow had not been used in European painting since the Renaissance. His pictures were sun steeped, sun burnt, tanned with the burning sun and swept with air.
“A good soul and so wise and so full of feeling and so trustful” – That’s how Van Gogh described his friend Joseph-Etienne Roulin. Roulin was wearing his blue postman’s cap. He had soft, inquiring eyes and a long, square, wavy beard which completely covered his neck and collar and came to rest on the dark blue postman’s coat…he was homely in a pathetic sort of way, and his plain peasant’s face seemed out of place in the luxurian Greek beard…Vincent said to Roulin “Imagine an autumn garden, Roulin, with two cypresses, bottle green, shaped like bottles, and three little chestnut trees with tobacco and orange colored leaves. There is a little yew with pale lemon foliage and a violet trunk, and two little bushes, blood red, and scarlet purple leaves.And some sand, some grass, and some blue sky…