Jules Dupré (1811 - 1889), c. 1865
oil on canvas,
106.5 cm x 93.5 cm
Credits: The Mesdag Collection, The Hague
This atmospheric painting of an autumn day in the forest near Compiègne, to the north of Paris, is by the French artist Jules Dupré. The way the large tree in the middle is painted makes it seem almost human: the landscape could equally well be called ‘Portrait of a Tree’. Dupré was following the example here of Camille Corot – the first painter to give trees a human character in many of his paintings.
The tall trees stand in an almost deserted landscape, the dark silhouettes of their branches picked out sharply against the light grey sky. The dramatic effect is further heightened by the thick layer of paint, in a range of brown and black tones. The fallen tree emphasizes the desolate feel of the scene.
Van Gogh saw the painting at an exhibition in The Hague in summer 1882. Theo had previously written to him about it: ‘It expresses that moment and that place in nature where one can go alone, without company.’