where was the van goghs painting the starry night painted
‘Self-portrait,’ 1889 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)
Van Gogh suffered from mental health issues throughout much of his life. After a string of unfortunate incidents (including an episode that resulted in the artist severing his own ear) in the late 1880s, he checked himself into a mental health facility in the South of France. During his time in the asylum, he completed 150 paintings, including The Starry Night, a nocturnal landscape painted through his “iron-barred window.”
‘Look, I have had another dream’ he said, ‘I thought I saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars, bowing to me.’
Some people have made stylistic comparisons to Vincent’s other well known and equally turbulent work Wheatfield with Crows. Does the tumultuous style of these works reflect a tortured mind? Or is there something more we can read within the whorls Vincent’s raging night sky? This is what makes Starry Night not only Vincent’s most famous work, but also one of its most frequently interpreted in terms of its meaning and importance.
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.
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.
Whitney also theorizes that the swirls in the sky could represent wind, evoking the mistral that had such a profound effect on Van Gogh during the twenty-seven months he spent in Provence.  (It was the mistral which triggered his first breakdown after entering the asylum, in July 1889, less than a month after painting The Starry Night.)  Boime theorizes that the lighter shades of blue just above the horizon show the first light of morning. 
Harvard astronomer Charles A. Whitney conducted his own astronomical study of The Starry Night contemporaneously with but independent of Boime (who spent almost his entire career at U.C.L.A.).  While Whitney does not share Boime’s certainty with regard to the constellation Aries,  he concurs with Boime on the visibility of Venus in Provence at the time the painting was executed.  He also sees the depiction of a spiral galaxy in the sky, although he gives credit for the original to Anglo-Irish astronomer William Parsons, Lord Rosse, whose work Flammarion reproduced. 
By 1888, van Gogh had returned to the French countryside, where he would remain until his death. There, close once again to the peasants who had inspired him early on, he concentrated on painting landscapes, portraits (of himself and others), domestic interiors, and still lifes full of personal symbolism.
In 1886, van Gogh moved to Paris, where he encountered the works of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, and the Pointillist compositions of Georges Seurat. Inspired by these artistsвЂ™ harmonious matching of colors, shorter brushstrokes, and liberal use of paint, he brightened his own palette and loosened his brushwork, emphasizing the physical application of paint on the canvas. The style he developed in Paris and carried through to the end of his life became known as Post-Impressionism, a term encompassing works made by artists unified by their interest in expressing their emotional and psychological responses to the world through bold colors and expressive, often symbolic images. In a letter to his sister Willemien, touching upon the mind and temperament of artists, van Gogh once wrote that he was вЂњvery sensitive to color and its particular language, its effects of complementaries, contrasts, harmony.вЂќ 2