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Rain - Auvers

GOGH, Vincent van (1853 - 1890)

[image: Rain - Auvers]

Date: 1890

Media: oil on canvas

Size: 50.3 x 100.2 cm

Acquired: 1952; Bequest; Gwendoline Davies

Accession Number: NMW A 2463

Collection: The Davies Sisters Collection

In May 1890 Van Gogh moved from Arles in Provence to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, north of Paris. There he lodged at the Café Ravoux and received treatment from Dr Paul-Ferdinand Gachet. Between 17 June and 27 July, Van Gogh painted thirteen double-square canvases of the gardens and fields around Auvers. In his last letter he expressed himself 'quite absorbed in the immense plain with wheat fields against the hills, boundless as a sea, delicate yellow, delicate soft green, the delicate violet of a dug-up and weeded piece of soil'. His treatment of the rain as diagonal strokes derives from the woodcut Bridge in the Rain by the Japanese artist Hiroshige, which the artist had copied in 1887. The atmosphere recalls one of Van Gogh's favourite poems, Longfellow's The Rainy Day 'My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary...Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.'

Van Gogh shot himself and died on 29 July 1890, shortly after painting this work. It was purchased by Gwendoline Davies at Paris in 1920.


TCK, 16 May 2014, 17:09

Your Van Gogh quotation `quite absorbed in the immense with wheat fields against the hills...' was in Vincent's last (undated but given a date c 10th/14th July 1890) letter to his mother in which he is clearly referring to a specific painting he was then engaged upon - this is surprising because Vincent's painting was so rapid and absorbing that it is odd he didn't complete his picture before writing to his mother particularly as there was nothing urgent in the content of the letter. The explanation might be that he was interrupted while painting by the scythers -indeed we find him making many sketches of the scythers at work towards the end of July as the harvest was reaped- this would give a later date to the letter to his mother to very shortly before he shot himself 26th/27th July following the harvesting much as he foretold the previous year at St Remy "I am struggling with a canvas begun some days before my indisposition , a `Reaper' the study is all yellow, terribly thickly painted, but the subject is fine and simple. For I see this reaper - a vague figure fighting like the devil in the midst of the heat to get to the end of his task - I see in him the image of death, in the sense that humanity might be the wheat he is reaping ...But there's nothing sad in this death , it goes its way in broad daylight with a sun flooding everything with a light of pure is an image of death as the great book of nature speaks of it - but what I have sought is the `almost smiling' ... In other words as the compiler of `The Complete Van Gogh' the artist's Catalogue Raisonne Dr Jan Hulsker claimed, one would expect the final painting by Van Gogh to depict the harvesting of the corn: for which these last sketches were evidently intended. Indeed Vincent's mother has appended to the top of the letter `Vincent's last letter from Auvers' not `last letter to me from Auvers' which may be significant as though to settle some dispute that his last thoughts were of his mother. It is interesting that no picture in the artist's established oeuvre answers that partial description in the letter to his mother although the picture, good for period and forensic tests of paints and materials including style and brushwork does indeed exist having never entered into the possession of the artist's family despite being displayed on the wall of his room at the Inn as Vincent's body lay there.
Who took immediate possession of it is unclear following the funeral and that early broken provenance is enough to ensure it will not be taken seriously by the Van Gogh Museum who are already so terrified of acknowledging the existing fakes in the artist's established oeuvre, particularly during the Auvers period, to dare risk looking at re-emerging works for fear of being taken in again: sadly art scholarship retreats before a broken provenance and nowhere more so than with the Van Gogh Museum.

Amgueddfa Cymru, 2 December 2013, 13:55

Dear Bob,
Thank you for your enquiry,
The dimensions of the work are 50.3 x 100.3 cms and the frame dimensions are 65 x 115.5 x 7.5 cms.
We have an image of the work in its frame, if you want a copy emailed to you, please contact

Graham Davies, Online Curator, Amgueddfa Cymru

Bob, 23 November 2013, 12:59

Many moons ago i bought a print of this painting from you. Having dug it out i would like to frame it. but cannot remember what the frame its sits in looks like.(real shame its not in an original Van Gogh hand painted frame, although i understand there's only one of those left)
The print i have also has writing underneath it which i would crop. So if you could give me the actual dimensions and a description of the frame. It would be much appreciated as this is my favorite painting having looked at the original too many times, for far too long when i was still living in Wales.

Bethan Hancock, 6 November 2011, 18:44

I find this piece so fascinating!

Amgueddf Cymru, 12 October 2010, 09:52

Dear James, Thank you for your comment, the artist who produced the modern interpretation of Rain-Auvers is Carol Robertson

James, 11 October 2010, 10:40

Good morning,

Several years ago you had on display next to Rain-Auvers a modern artist's intrepretation of the painting. I want to repeat the modern artist's method of transferring great works to the computer using blocks of colour. I was wondering who the artist was as I can not seem to find it on the internet. Thanks very much


Deborah Cole, 20 July 2010, 10:03

Dear Ms. Pritchard - Thank you so much for those references. I'm aware of the Letters website. I look forward to accessing the pieces you posted. This is a great help. Only a few more weeks left of viewing your show. It's been a great gift. Thank you for that and for your time researching.

Amgueddfa Cymru, 15 July 2010, 09:59

Dear Deborah, in reply to your request about scholarly articles, some references are listed below:

Berthier, F., Van Gogh et La Japon, Paris, 1981, No.15, pages 8-9

Mothe, A., Vincent Van Gogh a Auvers-Sur-Oise, Paris, 1987, page 14 (illus)

Van Uitart et al/Rijksmuseum, Vincent Van Gogh Exhibition catalogue, 1990,

Hulsker, J., New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, revised and enlarged edition of the catalogue raisonn of the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam, Philadelphia, 1996, p. 476, cat. no. 2096

I would also highly recommend visiting the Vincent van Gogh: The Letters website at

Ann Pritchard, Art Department, Amgueddfa Cymru.

BONNIE ARMSTRONG, 21 June 2010, 09:49


Amgueddfa Cymru, 16 June 2010, 14:10

Dear Deborah
Thank you for your comment - This painting has probably been stacked with others by the artist at a time when the paint is till soft. This would account for the features noted in your enquiry. We are trying to get together some bibliographic references and will post these up once they are available.

Deborah Cole (Albuquerque, N.M.), 15 June 2010, 10:20

I've been enjoying having your exhibit here in Albuquerque. I am especially moved by the Van Gogh and was wondering if you know of any scholarly articles written about this painting. I'm especially curious about its condition: many areas where the thick paint strokes were flattened before dry, smeared area on left and some indication of paint marks made from other sources than Van Gogh's brush. I am currently involved in a writing project that includes investigations into various aspects of Van Gogh's life and works. I'd appreciate any information you could pass on or a contact person to whom I could write. Thanks for your time and for the opportunity to experience these works.

Amgueddfa Cymru, 7 January 2010, 11:45

Dear M W J,

We are delighted to hear that you were moved by your vist to our exhibition 'Turner to Cezanne' at the Everson. We have been thrilled at the response to the show so far.

You also ask whether any of works could have come from European collections dispersed in the 1940s. The Davies sisters were extraordinary benefactors to the museum and to the people of Wales. Nearly all their art collection, of which the exhibition is only a part, was assembled by the sisters between 1908 and 1925, so this can be ruled out.

After that most of their funds went in to other philanthropic projects. Margaret Davies did return to collecting in the 1950s after her sister's death. However the three French and two British paintings in the exhibition that belong to that period were all in Britain before the Second World War.

Marianne Williams Jacobs, 6 January 2010, 10:34

Thank you very much for the opportunity to view the Davies Collection exhibit at The Everson Museum of Art (Designed by I.M. Pei), here in Syracuse New York. My grandfather came to the states around 1915 with a few other members of his family. We still visit with relatives from Amlwch, after all these years, we had no idea the National Museum of Wales had such treasurers. After viewing Vincent Van Gogh's Rain at Auvers, and reading the description of it being one of, if not his last works prior to suicide, my eyes filled with tears,my face flushed and I was embarrassed to let other patrons see my emotions. I had never reacted that way over an artist's work in the past though studied art history years ago in a university. Your exhibit is truly a gift that the Davies were generous enough for providing the resources to share. We wondered how many, if any of the works had been acquired via the black market in the aftermath of chaos due to World War II, (with sad stories of other family's unfortunate criminal losses of their own collections).
Thank you very much, again for providing this wondering exhibit.
These masterpieces were exquisite and were exquisitely presented!

Rebecca , 23 October 2009, 09:08

I recently visited the Everson Art Museum in Syracuse New York. My Mother and Aunt were visiting from Atlanta Ga. We were in awe of the Davies sisters' collection. My Mother's eyes filled with tears as she viewed the Monet works. It was magical. Thanks you for sharing these works of art. It is unlikely we will ever have the opportunity to stand in the same room with canvas filled brush strokes actually filled by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne....

An incredible experience.

Amgueddfa Cymru, 31 July 2009, 09:15 (Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff)

Dear Hilary, many thanks for your comment. Amgueddfa Cymru welcomes more than 200,000 school children each year to our seven sites across Wales. In addition we lend more than 1,500 objects from our outreach Collection each term.
Thank you for your interest in Amgueddfa Cymru.

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