starry night painting
This mid-scale, oil-on-canvas painting is dominated by a moon- and star-filled night sky. It takes up three-quarters of the picture plane and appears turbulent, even agitated, with intensely swirling patterns that seem to roll across its surface like waves. It is pocked with bright orbsвЂ”including the crescent moon to the far right, and Venus, the morning star, to the left of centerвЂ”surrounded by concentric circles of radiant white and yellow light.
Vincent van Gogh: Emotion, Vision, and A Singular Style
The nocturne series was limited by the difficulties posed by painting such scenes from nature, i.e., at night.  The first painting in the series was Café Terrace at Night, painted in Arles in early September 1888, followed by Starry Night Over the Rhône later that same month. Van Gogh’s written statements concerning these paintings provide further insight into his intentions for painting night studies in general and The Starry Night in particular.
It is in light of such symbolist interpretations of The Starry Night that art historian Albert Boime presents his study of the painting. As noted above, Boime has proven that the painting depicts not only the topographical elements of Van Gogh’s view from his asylum window but also the celestial elements, identifying not only Venus but also the constellation Aries.  He suggests that Van Gogh originally intended to paint a gibbous Moon but “reverted to a more traditional image” of the crescent moon, and theorizes that the bright aureole around the resulting crescent is a remnant of the original gibbous version.  He recounts Van Gogh’s interest in the writings of Victor Hugo and Jules Verne as possible inspiration for his belief in an afterlife on stars or planets.  And he provides a detailed discussion of the well-publicized advances in astronomy that took place during Van Gogh’s lifetime.
5) Analysts of “Starry Night” emphasize the symbolism of the stylized cypress tree in the foreground, linking it to death and Van Gogh’s eventual suicide. However, the cypress also represents immortality. In the painting, the tree reaches into the sky, serving as a direct connection between the earth and the heavens. The artist may have been making more of a hopeful statement than many credit him with. This positive interpretation of the cypress symbolism hearkens back to a letter to his brother in which the artist likened death to a train that travels to the stars.
6) In his 2015 book, “Cosmographics,” Michael Benson contends that the inspiration behind the distinctive swirls in the sky of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is an 1845 drawing by astronomer William Parsons, Earl of Rosse, of the Whirlpool Galaxy.
Van Gogh painted The Starry Night during his 12-month stay at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, several months after suffering a breakdown in which he severed a part of his own ear with a razor. While at the asylum, he painted during bursts of productivity that alternated with moods of despair. As an artist who preferred working from observation, van Gogh was limited to the subjects that surrounded him—his own likeness, views outside his studio window, and the surrounding countryside that he could visit with a chaperone.
Although van Gogh’s subjects were restricted, his style was not. He experimented with the depiction of various weather conditions and changing light, often painting the wheat fields nearby under a bright summer sun or dark storm clouds. Van Gogh was also particularly preoccupied by the challenges of painting a night landscape and wrote about it not only to his brother, Theo, but to a fellow painter, Émile Bernard, and to his sister, Willemien. In a letter addressed to the latter, he alleged that night was more colourful than day and that stars were more than simple white dots on black, instead appearing yellow, pink, or green. By the time van Gogh arrived at Saint-Rémy, he had already painted a few night scenes, including Starry Night (Rhône) (1888). In that work, stars appear in bursts of yellow against a blue-black sky and compete with both the glowing gas lamps below and their reflection in the Rhône River.
Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night in 1889 during his stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh lived well in the hospital; he was allowed more freedoms than any of the other patients. If attended, he could leave the hospital grounds; he was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room. He was even given a studio. While he suffered from the occasional relapse into paranoia and fits – officially he had been diagnosed with epileptic fits – it seemed his mental health was recovering.
Unfortunately, he relapsed. He began to suffer hallucination and have thoughts of suicide as he plunged into depression. Accordingly, there was a tonal shift in his work. He returned to incorporating the darker colors from the beginning of his career and Starry Night is a wonderful example of that shift. Blue dominates the painting, blending hills into the sky. The little village lays at the base in the painting in browns, greys, and blues. Even though each building is clearly outlined in black, the yellow and white of the stars and the moon stand out against the sky, drawing the eyes to the sky. They are the big attention grabber of the painting.
Starry Night is one of the most recognized pieces of art in the world. It is absolutely everywhere, too. It can be seen on coffee, mugs, t-shirts, towels, magnets, etc. Honestly, it sometimes feels as if the painting’s fame has exceeded that of its creator. It is a magnificent piece of art. That Starry Night resonates with so many people is a testament to how its beauty is timeless and universal.