In the spring of 1888, Van Gogh paints fourteen canvases with fruit trees or orchards in bloom, subjects that ‘make everyone happy’. He describes this painting as ‘the entrance to a Provençal orchard with its yellow reed fences, with its shelter (against the mistral), black cypresses, with its typical vegetables of various greens, yellow lettuces, onions and garlic and emerald leeks’.
Tendency towards stylization
Van Gogh has never seen cypress trees before and is fascinated by their shape and colour. Later, in Saint-Rémy, they would become a central motif for many paintings, in which he captures their structure with stylized and decorative curly brushwork. He has yet to reach that stage in Arles. Although the lack of shadows already indicates a tendency towards stylization.
He is aware of his unsystematic brushwork, with thick paint layers and parts that are unpainted or overpainted. He hopes that the result is ‘sufficiently worrying and annoying not to please people with preconceived ideas about technique’. Apparently, he is still searching for the right approach to depict the new motif.