Bulb Fields
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Flower Beds in Holland looks more like a selection of ice cream at the parlor. Two scoops of strawberry, one vanilla, lemon and bubblegum, if you may.

The colors popping out of Vincent van Gogh’s landscape show several flower beds before farmhouses beneath a cloudy sky in Holland. Flower Beds in Holland was the first painting Vincent made about flowers. Many more would come after this.

During his life, Vincent moved around a lot, always trying to find his place in the world where he could sit and paint. A simple request, no? Flower Beds in Holland was painted when Vincent lived in The Hague (from 1881-1883). During his time in The Hague, Vincent faced with poverty and cold weather he struggled to keep warm in. It was in these dire circumstances that Vincent found beauty.

Flowers were a big deal in Holland. For the prim and proper, for those that were rich and living in luxury, flower gardens meant leisure. Only the rich had money to own lavish and brightly colored flower gardens, while the middle class and poor were left with flower boxes and pitiful pots. The bright colors clearly entranced Vincent. For this love affair with flowers, you can thank the good fertile Dutch soil.

Flowers, along with other still lifes and landscape scenes and other everyday scenes, weren’t what artists sought to paint. These were dull, ordinary subjects. Who would want to sit for hours painting something so boring? It was the Impressionists who decided these seemingly dull sights were worth the cost of time and very expensive paints. But Vincent was interested in perspective, and the strong lines really allowed for that. It was possibly the landscapes of French artist Charles-Francois Daubigny that inspired Vincent.

No matter the reason, Vincent still painted an image that would have your mouth-watering over flower beds. These Dutch flower beds belonged to a bulb merchant. Flower Beds in Holland could very well be an advertisement for the merchant, because I’d buy all the flowers Vincent painted.



  1. Artfix Daily, “’Van Gogh and his Inspirations’ Exhibition Showcases the Smith/Naifeh Collection for the First-Time in Pubic View,” October 20, 2019. Accessed January 31, 2020.
  2. Bailey, Martin, “Want to buys a Van Gogh? Sotheby’s has four works with (relatively) modest estimates,” The Art Newspaper, January 10, 2020. Accessed January 31, 2020.
  3. Fell, Derek, Van Gogh’s Gardens. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001.
  4. Gogh-Bonger, Jo van, A Memoir of Vincent van Gogh. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2018.
  5. Gottesman, Sarah, “A Brief History of Flowers in Western Art,” Artsy, July 1, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2020.
  6. Naifeh, Steven and Smith, Gregory White, Van Gogh. London: Profile Books, 2011.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Bulb Fields

Bulb Fields, also known as Flower Beds in Holland, is an oil painting created by Vincent van Gogh in early 1883. It was donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in 1983.

Bulb Fields was Van Gogh's first garden painting, in oil paint on canvas mounted on wood. It was made in Van Gogh's second year in The Hague.

It depicts the rectangular plots of blue, yellow, pink and red hyacinths grown by a Dutch bulb merchant. The low vantage point creates a panoramic view of the field of colourful spring flowers, with thatched cottages and leafless trees in the background. The regular composition allows Van Gogh to explore his interest in perspective.

It seems likely that Van Gogh left the painting with other early works at his family's house in Nuenen in 1885, and then it accompanied his recently widowed mother and sister when they moved to Breda in early 1886. With other possessions, it was stored by a carpenter, Adrianus Schrauwen, who sold it along with other worthless "rubbish" in 1902 to the merchant J.C. Couvreur. It was exhibited at the Kunstzalon Oldenzeel in Rotterdam in 1902 with the title Tulpenland (Dutch: "Tulip fields"). It was bought by Jan Smit in 1905, and sold to his grandson John Enthoven in 1919. After passing through the hands of several art dealers, it was acquired by Paul Mellon from the Knoedler gallery in 1955. Mellon donated it to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in 1983.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Bulb Fields.