Starry Night Over the Rhône by Vincent van Gogh: Painting and Meditation

July 20, 2020  • Executive Leadership Seminars Department

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Starry Night Over the Rhône, Vincent van Gogh


Notorious for his lifelong struggle with depression, many of Vincent van Gogh’s works are debated for their dark undertones hinting at the artist’s state of mind as he worked. However, van Gogh’s letter correspondence from 1888 describes this “cheerful” view from his new home, where he had newfound high spirits and fresh inspiration for painting. In Starry Night Over the Rhône, van Gogh captures his characteristic magical starlit sky, peeking through the darkness of night and twinkling off the river. This respite from the darkest of days is a moment of peace, a brightness when the weight of the world feels crushing and inescapable. It’s inevitable to have days full of doubt, of dull repetition and shadowed by despair. But when a view of the sparkling Rhône lifted his spirits, van Gogh felt the need to capture that cheerfulness of a sky full of stars and strolling lovers through his own whimsical eye.

When light sprinkles itself in through your darkness, how do you capture it? How do you grasp onto the good, and carry it with you? How do you immerse yourself in the view, making it your own? 

Brianna Curran, Washington, DC 

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