Van Gogh’s Eternity

Jenkins visits Moreland, now terminally ill, in his hospital bed. Moreland recalls a time when Sir Magnus had been erroneously told that he had a year to live. Moreland said, “I now find myself in a stronger position than in those days for vividly imagining what it felt like to be the man in the van Gogh picture, so to speak Donners-on-the-brink-of-Eternity.” [TK 275/271]

Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate) Vincent Van Gogh, 1890 oil on canvas, 32 x 26 in Kroller-Muller Museum photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commns

Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity’s Gate)
Vincent Van Gogh, 1890
oil on canvas, 32 x 26 in
Kroller-Muller Museum
photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commns

Van Gogh painted At Eternity’s Gate in May, 1890, just as he was recovering from a two month illness, caused by or at least accompanied by severe depression, and two months before his apparent suicide.

Worn Out Vincent Van Gogh, 1880 pencil on watercolor paper, 20 x 12 in Van Gogh Museum, Amdsterdam photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commons

Worn Out
Vincent Van Gogh, 1882
pencil on watercolor paper, 20 x 12 in
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commons

Old Man with His Head in His Hands Vincent Van Gogh, 1882 ransfer lithography, printed in black ink, crayon, brush and autographic ink, 22 x 15 in The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (and elsewhere) photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commons

Old Man with His Head in His Hands
Vincent Van Gogh, 1882
transfer lithography, printed in black ink, crayon, brush and autographic ink, 22 x 15 in
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (and elsewhere)
photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commons

Moreland, nearing death, was looking back to others’ response to our universal mortality and thinking how the approach of death changed the view. Van Gogh was also looking back, referencing his own earlier works, which started as a pencil drawing of a resident of an almshouse and evolved to a lithograph. At the lower left of the lithograph, reportedly in Van Gogh’s own hand, is the inscription “At Eternity’s Gate.”

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s