With fresh eyes
On 16 May 1890, Van Gogh leaves the asylum and travels to Auvers-sur-Oise, not far from Paris. There he wants to make a new start and devotes himself to the ‘study from life of peasants and landscapes’. The picturesque rural setting is full of colour and he believes that his stay in the South will allow him to see it with fresh eyes.
In Blossoming chestnut trees, Van Gogh experiments with brushstrokes. He applies the green of the trees with flat strokes, while giving structure to the foliage with short, straight, dark blue brushstrokes. On some of the white tapers, he places thick dark blue contours, which enclose the blossom like a kind of gabled roof.
He paints the sky with overlapping zigzag strokes, a soft version of the sharp stripes in the tree. The bush on the right, by contrast, consists of curved brushstrokes, and the blue shadow in the foreground is applied rapidly with loose strokes. He leaves the lower part of the canvas unpainted.