The Starry Night was painted by Vincent van Gogh months before his suicide. It’s widely viewed as his greatest masterpiece. The painting was completed in 1889 with oil paint on a canvas. Take a look below for 25 more fun and interesting facts about the Starry Night painting.
1. The Starry Night was painted within an asylum, the Saint Remy de Provence, in France. Vincent van Gogh committed himself to this asylum later on in his life.
2. Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, describing his inspiration for the Starry Night. The letter stated, “This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.”
3. The curving, swirling lines of hills, mountains, and sky, the contrasting blues and yellows, the large, flame like cypress trees, and the thickly layered brushstrokes, show the artists turbulent state of mind at the time.
4. One of the reasons behind the paintings fame is because it conveys strong feelings of hope through the bright lights of the stars shining down over the dark landscape at night.
5. By painting exactly 11 stars in the Starry Night, many believe that Vincent van Gogh might have been directly referencing Genesis 37:9, which stated, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun the moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”
6. Even though the Starry Night was painted during the day in Vincent van Gogh’s ground floor studio, the painting wasn’t exactly painted from memory.
7. Rooted in imagination and memory, the Starry Night embodies an inner, subjective expression of Vincent van Gogh’s response to nature.
8. The village painted in the Starry Night is partially inspired by the village that was located across from his asylum, but it also pulled from his own pool of subjective images. It’s also thought that his homeland, the Netherlands, helped form the village as it was depicted in the painting.
9. While some people have discussed the idea whether Vincent van Gogh was rendering sunset or sunrise, it’s agreed upon that the Starry Night is a subjective depiction of sunrise.
10. Vincent van Gogh painted the original Starry Night before painting the one we know today. The original was named Starry Night Over The Rhone.
11. Vincent van Gogh became so deeply interesting in the subject of how the stars lit up the night sky that he painted several paintings that could also be named Starry Night.
12. Vincent van Gogh didn’t actually like his Starry Night painting. When he wrote to his brother, Theo, he stated, “The only things I consider a little good in it are the wheat field, the mountain, the orchard, the olive trees with the blue hills and the portrait and the entrance to the quarry. The rest says nothing to me.”
13. At one point, Vincent van Gogh said that the Starry Night was an outright faily. The reasoning behind his words is that he believe that the painting was too abstract since the stars were “too big.”
14. 30 years ago, Albert Boime of UCLA decided to compare the painting to a modern planetarium’s rendition of how the night sky would have appeared to Vincent as he painted it on June 19, 1889. It was then found that the morning star in the painting is Venus.
15. Van Gogh never managed to sell the Starry Night while he was alive.
16. Vincent Van Gogh was known as a deeply religious man, therefore, it’s argued that the Starry Night is a deeply religious painting. It’s even said that the blue and yellow colors that he used represent Christ.
17. Director Woody Allen used elements of the Starry Night for the poster for his movie Midnight in Paris.
18. The painting could represent mortality. The dark spires in the foreground are cypress trees, which were often associated with cemeteries and death. Vincent van Gogh was even quoted for saying, “Looking at the stars always makes me dream. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”
19. When Vincent van Gogh died in 1890, his brother Theo inherited all of his brother’s works. When Theo died in the fall of 1891, his wife, Johanna Gezina van Gogh-Bonger became the owner of Starry Night and many other paintings.
20. Theo’s wife collected and edited all of correspondence between the brothers and published it. She’s credited for building Vincent van Gogh posthumous fame due to her tireless promotion of his work and exhibitions.
21. Johanna sold the Starry Night in 1900 to French poet Julien Leclercq, who then sold it to post impressionist artist Emile Schuffenecker. 6 year slater, she bought the painting back from Schuffenecker so she could pass it along to the Oldenzeel Gallery in Rotterdam.
22. The Starry Night found its way to New York thanks to Lillie P. Bliss, who was the daughter of a wealthy textile merchant.
23. The light of the Starry Night appear to flicker because of how the human brain works.
24. Vincent van Gogh painted the Big Bear constellation in the Starry Night even though it would have been behind him from his painting vantage point.
25. After Vincent van Gogh painted the Starry Night is when he ultimately cut his ear off.