After a whole summer of painting and drawing outdoors, Van Gogh gets back to making still lifes in his studio. For him, this is the quintessential genre for practicing with colour, light, form and composition. He creates a group of seven still lifes with pottery and bottles.

Modelling with colours

Van Gogh has long been fascinated by the colour theories of Charles Blanc, particularly those regarding complementary colours: colours that reinforce each other. In Still life with jars he experiments with colour contrasts to give the four stoneware jars, the bottle and the white bowl their specific character. But because he uses a tonal palette, the result is still rather dark.


The loose, sometimes fairly impasto use of paint shows that Van Gogh’s painting technique has improved and that he has more self-confidence. In terms of perspective, the still life is less proficient: the jar on its side appears to be floating.