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The Old Mill

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh
Created: 1888
Dimensions (cm): 54.0 x 64.8
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, USA

The Old Mill

“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.” – Vincent Van Gogh

As one of the most distinctive artists of the 19th Century, Vincent Van Gogh created approximately 900 paintings during the period November 1881 to July of 1890 - the year of his death. Amongst these works is the oil on canvas titled ‘The Old Mill’, painted in 1888. The aged mill, a structure that towers over the landscape, is the main focus of the painting. At the bottom left side, a man and a woman seem caught up in conversation on the banks of a flowing river.

One of Vincent Van Gogh’s many artistic traits was his ability to create a contrasting emotion associated with the subject of his painting. ‘The Old Mill’ is set against the beautiful Arpilles Mountains, which are north of Arles. At first glance, the lush landscape together with the light greens of the sky offer the onlooker a breathtaking and serene experience of a moment in time. However, upon a more focused look, this peaceful feeling is quickly altered due to the thick and bold brushstrokes that leave the viewer slightly disturbed.


“Van Gogh’s major contribution to the history of modern art was his use of color. He was one of the first artists to free color from a merely descriptive function; that is, objects did not have to be reproduced on canvas in their natural colors. Van Gogh had specific and well thought out theories of painting, which were clearly articulated in hundreds of letters to his brother and friends. He wanted to represent emotions through the use of color, line, texture, and light — how he felt about a particular scene or subject. This painting represents his joy in the colors, beauty, light, and warmth of the south.” - Nancy Spector and Mariann Smith

Interesting Facts

Unfortunately, Van Gogh never enjoyed success as an artist while he was alive. During his entire career, he sold only one painting, “The Red Vineyard”, and received a mere 400 Francs for it. Moreover, this single sale was long awaited, as it occurred but a few months before his suicide.

‘The Old Mill’ by Vincent Van Gogh is currently located at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, USA


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