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Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853 - July 29, 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on twentieth-century art. Though van Gogh began to draw as a child, he did not begin to paint until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works (including The Starry Night) during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His oeuvre comprises portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, and still lives. In 1886, van Gogh moved to Paris and underwent a significant transformation when confronted with the works of Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists. Famously, van Gogh lived out the remainder of his life in the south of France, where he eventually succumbed to mental illness and committed suicide. His paintings of his final years are perhaps his most seminal and renown, and their influence on modern art cannot be overstated.
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One of Vincent van Gogh’s final paintings, The Mulberry Tree was painted in 1889, less than a year before his death. After voluntarily committing himself to the asylum at Saint-Remy, van Gogh began producing some of his most powerful and well-known work, including this canvas. In a letter to his sister Willemina, van Gogh noted, “As regards mulberry trees, there are a lot here. I painted one not long ago when its bushy foliage was a magnificent yellow against a very blue sky and a white, stony, sunlit field behind.” Van Gogh’s inspiration came from the garden of the hospital of his residence, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, of which he had a view from his bedroom window. Van Gogh’s use of bright, contrasting colors energizes the landscape in a way that has come to be known as his signature style of painting natural subjects. Currently in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, Mulberry Tree is one of van Gogh’s best-loved works.