Vincent van Gogh: Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888)

Oil on canvas – On display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

Contemporary society typically associates Dutch post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh with his 1889 masterpiece The Starry Night.  However, Starry Night Over the Rhone is perhaps a better illustration of van Gogh’s mastery of light.  The reflections on the water of gas lamps along the shore of the Rhone in Arles, contrasts with the stars of the night sky.

Describing this particular painting, van Gogh wrote the following in a September 28, 1888 letter to his younger brother Theo:

[I]n short the starry sky painted by night, actually under a gas jet. The sky is aquamarine, the water is royal blue, the ground is mauve. The town is blue and purple. The gas is yellow and the reflections are russet gold descending down to green-bronze. On the aquamarine field of the sky the Great Bear is a sparkling green and pink, whose discreet paleness contrasts with the brutal gold of the gas. Two colorful figurines of lovers in the foreground.

 

Thomas Couture: Romans in Decadence of Empire (1847)

File:THOMAS COUTURE - Los Romanos de la Decadencia (Museo de Orsay, 1847. Óleo sobre lienzo, 472 x 772 cm).jpg

Oil on canvas – On display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

French artist Thomas Couture painted Romans in Decadence of Empire for historical depiction of the decay of Roman culture near the collapse of the Empire.  In many ways, the decay of American culture today parallels that of the Romans above. The Saturnalian employs the painting as its header to illustrate the atmosphere of a typical Saturnalian celebration and as representation of the American empire’s decline today.