Philadelphia Museum of Art

Amanda and I visited Philadelphia for two days last week. I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant art city. It’s less crowed and more laid back than New York, and it also has an array of cultural things to see and do.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Amanda and I with Philly in the background

Sculpture outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Our first visit was to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Currently on show is a retrospective of Vincent Van Gogh paintings, Van Gogh Up Close. The curatorial choices of the show is interesting. We saw some super famous works (for example his one of his ‘Sunflower’ paintings) and some lesser know works. To view Van Gogh up close is really a experience entirely different from seeing reproductions. The way the lighting is positioned above the paintings emphasizes the vivid texture of his style.

'Still life: Vase with twelve sunflowers', 1889

Our favourite Van Gogh painting was a close up view of two sunflowers. The texture of the painting is truly incredible. We lingered at this one for a while.

'Sunflowers', 1887

I appreciated ‘A Pair of Boots’ because I wrote about this painting in my thesis.

'A Pair of Boots', 1887

‘Undergrowth with Two Figures’ has a Romantic quality to is – the figures in the painting become secondary to nature as the trees dominate the scene.

'Undergrowth with Two Figures', 1890

The painting ‘Rain’ struck me. Van Gogh scratched onto the surface of the canvas to create the effect of rain. But the most striking quality of the work is the way that it captures the artist’s sense of isolation. He made this work from his room in an asylum in France. Interestingly, he chose not to paint the bars in front of the window, focusing instead only on the view outside.

'Rain', 1889

The very last work in the gallery is ‘Almond Blossom’. This painting was made as a gift to his newborn nephew. It has an uplifting quality to it, not only because of it’s cheerful subject matter, but also because it represents some of the positive aspects of Van Gogh’s life. Van Gogh is ultimately a tragic figure, and I think the exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art shows some of the other, more positive, aspects of of this enigmatic artist’s life.

'Almond Blossom', 1890



  1. please tell me where you got these images….i went with a group of friends yesterday and my favorite one “road menders” is very hard to find (the exact image…he’s done so many). Thank you! What a lovely exhibit!

  2. Hi Rose, ‘Road Menders’ is a lovely painting. Here I found a good quality image of it:
    (I found the images of Van Gogh’s paintings through various searches – not one specific site.)

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