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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;69(10):992. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.109.
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On October 29, 1876, the 23-year-old Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was invited to preach the Sunday sermon at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Richmond, England. Five days later(http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let096/letter.html#arrangement), he confided to his brother Theo that he had found his calling:

Vincent was a man of melancholic temperament,2 and his focus on sorrow, consolation, and rejoicing in his first invited sermon was to remain with him throughout his life. Two of his favorite biblical verses are about the Old Testament Isaiah, the suffering servant, despised and rejected by his fellow men, who brought vicarious healing by bearing the suffering of others (a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” [Isaiah 55:3]), and the New Testament Paul, who wrote about those who are “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10) about what is to come.3 Vincent identified with Christ's human qualities: his suffering and doubt, and his mission of selfless ministery.

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Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Dutch. The Olive Trees, Saint-Rémy, France, June-July 1889. Oil on canvas, 72.6 × 91.4 cm (28⅝ × 36 in). Mrs John Hay Whitney Bequest. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York. Digital Image: The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, New York (http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=80013).

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