Van Gogh Prisoners Excersize

Vincent van Gogh: Prisoners exercise, oil on canvas


      The Oil Painting on Canvas from Van Gogh, The Prison Exercise Yard, is a masterpiece which was created in 1890 and is just one example of Van Gogh's creative copies. He recreated this image from Gustave Dore's original painting that has the same name. This painting was made while Van Gogh "imprisoned" himself, in the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint Rémy, 5 months before his committed suicide, after his long struggle with physical and mental illness.
      Dark brick walls rise out of the shadows, reading towards the sky and sun which lie far out of the frame. The painting is showing a situation in a small angular courtyard. On the sides of the yard are walled in, with small arched windows which are put high above, so that no prisoner is able to reach them, and have a chance so escape. At the bottom of the walls, which seem endlessly high, marchers a slow and morose circle of prisoners, doing their daily exercise. It is the prisoner with blond hair which immediately catches our eye, and determine so the main focus, center of the frame. While all others characters in painting are wearing hats, the blond man walks bear headed, and it seems as he is trying to angle away from the path of the circle, and intends to leave it. While watching the painting I can notice three gentlemen, two with top hats which are appearing to be speaking to each other. Their top hats suggest they must be from a upper middle class at the beginning of the 20th century. Another one who is reading or just looking at something seems to be wearing a uniform. While the prisoners are marching, on their abysmal circle, those men are looking with indifference, or are just looking away. The painting is showing two mentalities, two ways of life, juxtaposed on top of each other. On one hand the prisoners grim reality of paving stones of the courtyard. On the second hand, the visitors, which appear uninterested in the...