August 13th, 2016

Van Gogh, “The Sower” (study)

Inspired by the Jean-François Millet’s paintings of peasants sowing seeds, van Gogh visited this theme many times. Like Millet, sowing for van Gogh is a symbol. The concept is based on the “Parable of the Sower” as told by Jesus in which he likens the toils of the sower to our own journey through life: “That if one sows a good seed one will reap a good crop.”

Sowing is “a solemn act of faith in man’s battle to earn his daily bread, for potentially edible grain is flung to the winds, in the hope of harvests far beyond the control of the sower. In Catholic France, the sower often began his task by crossing himself, or by forming a cross with a handful of grain flung into the air in two strokes.”

Furthermore, as a man of the people van Gogh was celebrating the sower as a statement of solidarity with their labor. ““By the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, the concept of the human machine had taken a new turn in the light of advancing industrialization and incipient mass production….That the theme of labor and the nascent ‘human motor’ should begin to emerge as a European phenomenon in the later 1840s is no coincidence, not only in respect of industrial progress but of the spread of European imperialism, agitation against slavery and worker exploitation, and the new self-awareness of labor itself in the run-up to the revolutions of 1848. Van Gogh’s sower studies and paintings demonstrate their pictorial engagement in the political as well as physical senses with contemporary issues of labor power.”

Sources: Anthea Callen and Alexandra Murphy,
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

via Prestons Art Center




Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>