Almond Blossom
Be the first to vote…
mwilson's picture


Vincent van Gogh is often blamed for being the person to give artists the reputation of being eccentric if not totally crazy.


But Van Gogh didn’t actually want to be crazy, nor did he start out that way. When Van Gogh discovered Japanese prints he went crazy for them and he thought that painting in a Japanese style was the way to give the people what they wanted. Van Gogh moved to the countryside on a quest for “a more Japanese eye,” as he called it.

He wanted peace and brighter colors, but instead he lost an ear. After what could probably be considered the world’s most famous mental breakdown, Van Gogh had himself institutionalized at Saint-Paul Asylum. Vincent’s brother, Theo, thought very highly of Vincent for admitting himself.

Vincent was genuinely disturbed by his first mental breakdown and was afraid that he might have another one so he thought it best to keep himself under supervision. Despite being uncomfortable in an asylum, Van Gogh preferred being there than somewhere he couldn’t get help, which proved a smart decision because he had several more breakdowns while he was in the asylum.

While in Saint-Paul, Van Gogh pushed himself to paint and be creative. Also during this time, Theo and his wife had a baby boy, Vincent’s first nephew, whom they named after Vincent in the hopes that baby Vincent would grow up to be “as determined and as courageous” as his uncle.

Vincent painted this work, Almond Blossom, as a gift for his newborn nephew. The work remained close to the hearts of the Van Gogh family and inspired baby Vincent to open the Van Gogh Museum to share his uncle’s works with the world.

Van Gogh did get to meet his nephew once, and Vincent wrote that he was happy to have spent that time with his family. Later that same year, though, Vincent shot and killed himself.

Even after creating a work that represented new life and rebirth, Vincent couldn’t find a way out of the hopelessness he felt.




  1. V. Van. Gogh, V.W Van. Gogh, and Mark Roskill, The letters of Vincent van Gogh (New York: Atheneum, 1963).
  2. "Brotherly love: Vincent & Theo," Brotherly love: Vincent & Theo - Van Gogh Museum, , accessed September 30, 2017,
  3. "Inspiration from Japan," Inspiration from Japan - Van Gogh Museum, , accessed September 30, 2017,
  4. "Inspiration from Japan," Inspiration from Japan - Van Gogh Museum, , accessed September 30, 2017,