Modelling with colours

Still life with apples and pumpkins is one of a series of seven still lifes of baskets with potatoes, apples and other fruits. Van Gogh uses these works for ‘modelling with different colours’. He informs his brother Theo that he enjoys painting these still lifes ‘enormously’: ‘I know that they’re difficult to sell – but it’s devilish useful and I’ll go on doing a lot to them in the winter’. 

Depth effect

In this still life, Van Gogh places the light source in the top left. This creates a cast shadow that reinforces the depth effect. The basket contains large cooking apples and pumpkins, with smaller apples in front of and beside the basket and ornamental pumpkins bathed in light on the left. The wickerwork of the basket is ‘woven again with the brush’ as it were. 


The ‘warty’ pumpkins and the ruddy apples are also rendered eloquently. Van Gogh paints the work opaquely, wet-on-wet with heavy impasto in some places. The paint layer is very thick and saturated. The red and the light shades were applied later. Van Gogh is apparently so satisfied with this work that he signs it at the bottom left.