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Girl in White is a famous painting by Vincent van Gogh. It was completed in 1890 and was part of the 70 paintings he made in the days preceding his death. In this period, he was making an average of one painting per day, and this steady pace helped to compensate for his inactive period in Paris.
Vincent painted the Girl in White at Auvers-sur-Oise, a suburb in the northwestern section of Paris. This place was calm and far from the bustling city centre, and that provided ideal conditions for him to work on his paintings. Girl in White features a young peasant girl standing in a wheat plantation. In contrast to the popular art forms of the day, this one featured a subject that filled most of the painting. The girl has a white dress and a yellow hat, and she has a serious, distant look on her face. Her face is slightly shadowed, perhaps because of the big hat she is wearing.
The painting falls under post-impressionism style of art and features an increased focus on imagery. It was one of the paintings that put him on the list of the founders of post-impressionism. The four founders of this art form all shared one common characteristic - a rejection of the emphasis on optical perception. They instead preferred paintings that showed emotion and symbolism. Another common feature in post-impressionist art was the increased focus on subjective imagery. Post-impressionism, as an art form, was popular between 1886 and 1905.
Girl in White was painted using the oil on canvas style. This style was the most commonly used all around Europe since the middle ages, when it was imported from Buddhist societies. It presented multiple advantages and was deemed to be a lot better than other styles. For example, it could last for a long time. Also, paint dried slowly when this method was used, and that meant the artist had more time to implement changes.
Upon the artist's death, the Girl in White painting fell into the ownership of his sister, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. The sister ended up selling it in 1908, and after this, it changed hands three more times. By 1963, it was the property of Chester Dale, a passionate and successful art collector from New York. He bequeathed it to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in 1963. Today, the painting can be viewed at this art gallery.
Girl in White has been noted to be similar to Young Peasant Woman with Straw Hat Sitting in the Wheat, which was also painted by Vincent. Both paintings feature a girl in a wheat plantation, and in both cases, she has a yellow hat and a knot of sky-blue ribbons. Staying in line with his post-impressionism style, Vincent filled most of the picture with the subject.