'A little town surrounded by countryside'

Field with Irises near Arles

A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know.

Letter to Theo van Gogh. Arles, Saturday, 12 May 1888

While he lived in Arles (South of France), Van Gogh often worked in the surrounding area. This time he chose a place at the roadside. From there he looked across the fields towards the small town.

He made a drawing and a painting of the view. He even wanted to make a second painting, as he wrote to his brother Theo:

‘If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful and I had trouble finding the composition.’

Letter to Theo van Gogh. Arles, Saturday, 12 May 1888


In both the drawing and the painting we can recognize the towers of Arles:

1. Town Hall Tower

2. St. Trophime Tower

3. Roland Tower

4. Chapelle de la Charité Tower

That is how we know Van Gogh's exact location. The spot was to the southwest of the town.

Old photo of Arles, taken from the southeast.

La collection photographique d'Achille Gautier-Descottes, Bibliotheque numérique patrimoniale de la médiathèque d'Arles

Aerial photo of Arles. The dotted lines are the old roads. The area between the while lines shows what Van Gogh could see.

Right behind him was the Langlois bridge. He depicted this bridge in a different painting.

Langlois Bridge, 1888

oil on canvas

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)