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Van Gogh’s iconic painting exhibited in Hong Kong

A MASTERPIECE BY Vincent Van Gogh (梵高), Long Grass with Butterflies (長草地與蝴蝶), together with dozens of classic landscape paintings by famous western painters, are being exhibited in Hong Kong for the first time.

Art lovers can now visit a western painting exhibition called “Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from The National Gallery” at the Hong Kong Palace Museum and over 50 western paintings from the 15th to early 20th century are on display.

The western painting exhibition in Hong Kong Palace Museum. Image: Hong Kong Palace Museum

The exhibition covers various artistic styles from the period of Renaissance to Impressionism to Post-Impressionism encompassing more than 400 years of history in western art paintings.

The exhibition has been co-organized by the Hong Kong Palace Museum and The National Gallery in London with diverse themes such as religious images, mythological stories, natural landscape and portraiture. Natural landscape painting emerged as a genre in Europe in the later half of the 16th century as a means of examining how painters view and portray nature.

VAN GOGH’S ICONIC PAINTING

Van Gogh (1853-1890) has an extraordinary fascination with the natural world. He painted Long Grass with Butterflies during his time as a patient in France. He recreated a patch of meadow he saw when he was a psychiatric patient at a  hospital at Saint-Paul de Mausole near the village of St-Remy.

Van Gogh’s painting Long Grass with Butterflies. Image: H.C. Lu

At the hospital, he made sketches and paintings that look down at small areas of meadow. His work exemplifies his unique style and artistic vision, using clear brushstrokes to depict a lush green landscape filled with tall and gentle grass stirring in the breeze.

Image: Redd F/ Unsplash

Butterflies flutter around, their colourful wings adding a touch of enchantment to the scene. Van Gogh’s meticulous brushwork brings each blade of grass and butterfly to life. He is renowned for his ability to infuse emotion into his paintings through bold colours and expressive brushstrokes. The painting serves as a testament to his mastery as a post-impressionist artist. Whether displayed on its own or as part of a larger collection, the painting captivates visitors with the beauty of the natural landscape.

Today, he is one of the popular Post-Impressionist painters even though he was not appreciated during his lifetime.

IMMERSIVE ART INSTALLATION

Also, there is an interactive art installation established for visitors to immerse into Van Gogh’s iconic painting in the exhibition.

An interactive art installation to immerse visitors into Van Gogh’s painting. Image: Hong Kong Palace Museum

Visitors can admire the animated rendering of a meadow with lush green grass – which was projected onto a large LED screen with glowing light in the museum. It fully immerses visitors in the tranquility of natural setting, evoking a sense of peace and serenity. The museum has also collaborated with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra to curate a musical journey complementing each section of the exhibition, highlighting classical music composed by legendary composers including Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Mozart.

OTHER FAMOUS LANDSCAPE PAINTINGS

Meanwhile, the exhibition has highlighted renowned landscape paintings such as leading French artist Claude-Joseph Vernet (韋爾内) artwork – A River with Fishermen (有漁民的河流) and British painter John Constable (康斯塔伯)  piece – Stratford Mill (史特拉福磨坊).

Claude-Joseph Vernet’s painting A River with Fishermen. Image: H.C. Lu

Vernet (1714-1789) is famed for his topographic paintings and serene landscapes as he spent almost 20 years in Rome to learn oil painting in early 1730s. In his piece A River with Fishermen, a woman in red dress and a tree draw visitors’ eyes into the composition.

Portrait of Claude-Joseph Vernet. Image: Public domain

Constable (1776-1837) artwork Stratford Mill accentuated a water-powered paper mill on the River Stour in the Suffolk countryside – where he was born and lived – in England.  

John Constable’s painting Stratford Mill. Image: H.C.Lu

Constable showed the mill in shadow. He is best-known for his paintings in England’s countryside, particularly those representing his native valley of the River Stour.

Portrait of John Constable.

There are also other landscape paintings such as A Horseman with a Cowherd and Two Boys in a Meadow and Seven Cows (草地上的騎士、牧民、兩個男孩和七頭牛) painted by Dutch painter Aelbert Cuyp (1620 – 1691). The artwork featured rich flatlands between Nijmegen and Cleves on the eastern side of the Netherlands in early 1650s.

Aelbert Cuyp’s painting A Horseman with a Cowherd and Two Boys in a Meadow and Seven Cows. Image: H.C. Lu

The iconic paintings in the exhibition show a significant time in western art history, from the Renaissance to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, represented by the world’s revered artists, including Van Gogh and Constable. The exhibition will last till mid-April 2024.


Image at the top by The National Gallery in London.

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