Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is one of his grand masterpieces, one of his most popular paintings — anyone in the world would immediately recognize the artist’s inimitable style, that has found its highest incarnation in this marvellous work of art. Vivid colours, bold brushstrokes, original imagery, masterful composition and what strikes one most about this picture — the fact that Vincent van Gogh was pretty well aware of his unstable — putting it mildly — psychic condition, and the meticulousness with which he rendered it at his most famous picture.
The audacious manner, blurry colours, whirly image of a night, sun seen at night overlapping with much smaller moon, changed position of the Ursa Major constellation — all these features and details as though telling us that the picture is written by a person with an ill mentality. But the difference is that they are designed to produce such an effect. The artist is scrupulously monitoring the irrevisible changes in his own mental health, documenting his fall into the abyss. The brilliance with which this famous masterpiece is composed, the symbolism of stars (their number is not irrelevant; they are believed to allude to passage from “Genesis”) and the general ingenuity with which his most famous painting is done leave no doubt in sanity of its author at the very moment of its creation.
Interestingly, that one of the most remarkable details — the cypress, to the left of the centre, springing up to the sky as spurts of flame — wasn’t actually growing in the asylum’s garden; van Gogh added it for composition’s sake. More interestingly, that unlike most of his pictures, this famous work of van Gogh’s genius, probably the most famous one wasn’t painted from nature — van Gogh created it relying only on his memory.
The popularity of the Dutch artist — and it goes without saying that van Gogh is one of the most well-known painters in the world and his “Starry Night” is perhaps his most popular picture — if not to say notoriety is to large extent based on his mental instability having manifested itself in ear-cutting episode and on various canvases — most popular of which is “Starry Night”.
It should be noted, that at the moment of creation of “Starry Night” (1889) Vincent van Gogh was residing at the psychiatric asylum in Saint-Remy where he applied after he had experienced a mental breakdown after accident with Gauguin and self-inflicted violence while living in Arles. Before this dreadful events he had drawn a picture called “Starry Night over the Rhone” and a series of pen drawings related to the theme. These works are believed to be the basis for his famous picture that would be written in Saint-Remy — “The Starry Night”.
“The Starry Night” has become one of its creator’s trademarks, the most famous picture by van Gogh and it has generated a number of works alluding or referring to it including poems, academic music pieces, popular songs and has made several appearances in movies.