Vincent Van Gogh's The Church At Auvers and The Old Church At Nuenen

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Impressionism represents one of the most discussed and severely criticized artistic periods in the history of painting. The reason as to why the art form, developed in France, invited huge criticism is because impressionist artists portrayed modern urban life rather than historic themes that individuals were used to (Donnell 227). One of the most prolific artists of the impressionist period is Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. During his lifetime, Van Gogh created several paintings, but it is The Old Church at Nuenen and The Church at Auvers paintings, in this case, which provide the best chances for comparison (Van Gogh Gallery). The Old Church at Nuenen and The Church at Auvers are both exquisite paintings, but if I had to purchase one of them, I would choose The Church at Auvers because of the artist’s incorporation of color and painting style which inspire visual stimulation and imagination.  

            The Church at Auvers makes for a more appropriate choice because of the use of color. The painting which depicts a church standing against the backdrop of a lush field and a dark blue sky is impressive because the church itself seems to sit in the shadows while the surrounding is brightly illuminated by the sun. According to Van Gogh, the church "neither reflects nor emanates any light of its own,” thus adding to the mystery of the portrait (Van Gogh Gallery). The Old Church at Nuenen, on the other hand, uses very little detail to depict a church surrounded by graves on an isolated piece of land. In this case, the church is painted in dark mudding colors that make it barely visible against the light backdrop of the sky. The use of color here only makes the portrait grim especially with the addition of the wooden crosses on the graves surrounding the church (Van Gogh Gallery).

            The other aspect that makes the 1890 painting of The Church at Auvers interesting is the painting style. In a manner that is uncharacteristic of the impressionist period, Van Gogh uses free forming lines as opposed to symmetrical lines in the painting which he did after moving to Paris (Van Gogh Gallery). The free forming brush strokes thus make the outline of the church wavy with some of the features seeming to melt or bend. This depiction, in turn, creates an illusory effect that enhances the viewers’ discernment of the portrait. The Old Church at Nuenen, alternatively, is a literal representation of a church surrounded by a bright sky that makes the viewer instead to focus on the dark church. The portrait which was created at around 1885 in the impressionist period during Van Gogh’s stay at Nuenen, Netherlands uses symmetrical brush strokes that present the church’s outline (Van Gogh Gallery). One could say, therefore, that it does not attract the same level of attention as that of The Church at Auvers.

            In summary, a prospective buyer of art should consider the style of painting that an artist has used as well as their ability to make a picture attractive through the use of color. When considering some of the works of renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh, one can deduce that The Church at Auvers is more attractive than The Old Church at Nuenen. This perception stems from the fact that The Church at Auvers portrait utilizes a post-impressionist painting style where the brush strokes are free forming while The Old Church at Nuenen is simplistic and thus reflective of less imagination. The Church at Auvers is also mind-blowing because of the artist’s depiction of the building as a wavy structure, but The Old Church at Nuenen is too basic since it is just a literal representation of a place (Van Gogh Gallery). A person who prefers to purchase The Old Church at Nuenen instead of The Church at Auvers, therefore, can only be described as devoid of imagination and lacking the capacity to appreciate things that are out of the ordinary.

Works Cited

Donnell, Carol A. "The problem of representation and expressionism in post-impressionist art." The British Journal of Aesthetics 15.3 (1975): 226-238.

Van Gogh Gallery. "Comparison of Van Gogh's Early Paintings with those after being influenced by Impressionism." 14 March 2018. Van Gogh Gallery.

Online. 14 March 2018

August 21, 2023




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Artwork Painting

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