THE LOSS OF VAN GOGH’S COLORS. I posted here about Van Gogh’s statement in one of his letters that: “a painter does well if he starts from the colours on his palette instead of starting from the colours in nature?” Later in that letter he wrote: ” Suppose I have to paint an autumn landscape, trees with yellow leaves. Very well — if I conceive it as — a symphony in yellow, what does it matter whether or not my basic yellow colour is the same as that of the leaves — it makes little difference.” It is sad and ironic that, as a recent exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum demonstrated, Van Gogh’s colors have been distorted by the passage of time. Jonathan Jones in the Guardian notes that it is remarkable that Van Gogh “has a good claim to be the greatest colourist ever”, and yet “some of the colours we see in Van Gogh’s paintings are just pale echoes of the hues he originally set down in the 1880s.”

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