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We present the story of a masterpiece. Another in a series of programs recounting the historical background. Of world famous artistic masterpieces. Day and I'm go paints like birds in a field. The way. Van Gogh was one of the noblest recipients of the heritage of man one of the countless men of genius blessed by the gods the heavens. Mother Nature call it what you will and crushed destroyed by the same blessings which most always proved to be too heavy a burden. Before the sad reality of life no man ever really knew him
or understood Vincent. It is time only his brother Teo in whom Vincent confided the torment and the anguish that was his lot on earth had some notion of his ordeal. The life of Van Gogh is mostly an enigma for the world and for us as well it remains a mystery a bottomless abyss which as a child he already attempted to explore and enigma which haunted him as he strolled alone through the countryside the gloomy countryside of the Northern flat lands where his father was a Protestant minister with the same disenchanted question ever present on his lips. Why all this all this meaning the trees the insects the grass the sky. But meaning also him. Young VINCENT Some time later one of his uncles who was an art dealer had set into London their life suddenly seemed worth living then and fell in love for the first time. But the object of his love. Young Ursula
was unfortunately a frivolous young lady then blindly endowed her with every virtue under the sun. And one day he confessed his feelings to her. I've never seen anyone so pure so beautiful as you are. Life's wonderful lies full of riches. It doesn't sound much like you my poor Vincent. Poor Vincent. All right I'll be poor. We don't need much to be happy together. I small houses of our own children high load children they annoy me. I'm harder to please than you are. I want everything you mustn't ask for too much. Two pennies worth of happiness just two cents Eissler two cents worth of happiness. That's really something you should stop dreaming my friend. Oh I forgot to tell you something. I am already engaged to a much older man than you with true but he has a lot of money and that makes up
for the rest. Two cents worth of happiness two cents. You're really something with your two cents. You should marry a country girl. You don't know much about the city my boy. Did you really think I would marry you. Vincent Van Gogh. Why you're crazy if you believe that. Completely crazy younger solice laughter had found an echo in the abyss haunted by the specter of the sins imaginary sins. Poor Vincent embarked on his long journey to the gates of the night. He couldn't stand London anymore and he begged his family to send him to Paris. He left the faithful Theo received him in his home and made clumsy attempts to understand this brother appears he desperately wanted to help. We felt so close to and who was so unapproachable. Be reasonable Vincent. This girl is no good. It's just as well she didn't want you. You have better things to do in life. All right Theo tell me what can I do.
But it's not for me to decide. You're young you're in good health. You just can't sit back and wait for things to happen. Surely there's some trade you can work out something you want to do. No nothing. I don't feel like doing anything. Why don't you paint then you won't make much of a living at it. But if you like that sort of thing it will help keep you busy and it won't stop you from looking for work or painting. I'm going to buy you some canvas and colors you know. The drawings you did when you were eight years old were very good. Didn't you draw when you were in London. Yes a little and keep at it but no. Why not. You're nice but you don't understand. I must atone for my sins but atone for what sins. What is it you've done. Tell me you know very well you can tell me everything. It can't be all that serious. Is it something you didn't London. No. Does it have anything to do with the girl. What do you mean. Well I mean
no no don't worry it's nothing to be ashamed of you know. You're old enough. I told you. No I don't understand. God has first taken me and yet I believe in Him with all my heart. Won't he ever forgive me but forgive you for what I don't know. But I must have his forgiveness. Otherwise I'll go crazy. I think. Don't talk nonsense. Just look at how happy our father is. Nothing troublesome. He's at peace with himself. Our father is a minister. You don't mean to tell me you want to be a minister of the church. As a matter of fact I think I do. You're not serious. Yes I swear I am. Well I envy the peace that he's found like to preach like and to preach to the miserable the humble the poor. But you can't become a minister just like that simply because you feel like being one. You must
study. I can do it. I mean intelligent enough for that No. And then Vinson began his religious studies. The kindly respectable minister didn't need much convincing his son's interest in art had been a source of concern for him. Surely the devil at hand in this business of painting now he felt reassured. The instant would be too absorbed in his pious duties to think of anything else. It would keep him out of trouble away from such foolishness as painting but had the father read the letter Theo had just received from thence and he would have felt more uneasy. What I really want to see ow is to be a minister like our father. You know that and yet it's strange sometimes unwillingly while I'm studying I stop and do a small sketch. Do you think it's wrong. Denton had left to preach the Gospel in the mining country. He also made sketches of the miners houses the landscapes of the sad northern lands but people made fun of him of his extravagance and absolute faith of his wild looking
appearance. It was almost as if they saw devilish intent in what for him was a desperate search for God. The simple miners couldn't understand that Vincent often went for long lonely walks beneath the somber skies of the North to understand to perceive a glimpse of the absolute was his obsession. One day he wrote to see Oh. It is man added to nature nature nature reality but with a meaning with a design with a temperament brought out by the artist and to which he gives expression which he defines which he delivers which he eliminates. Yes you already knew that art would be his substitute for an approach to God. He bore the full brunt of man's evil ways. He wanted to express them and to express his own feelings of evil through his painting through a magical act of devotion to art.
And because of this his suffering knew no bounds. It permeated the deepest parts of him. Linton had no friends except for Van rabbit who admired him and feared him at the same time because of his fanatical zeal. He listened dumbfounded as Van Gogh voiced his profession of faith. Try to understand then wrap it. Everything is governed by laws laws of proportion. Laws of light and shade laws of perspective which must all be understood in order to be able to draw. I do a skelton five different times and that meant a lot of work believe me. Couldn't you choose more cheerful subjects Vincent. You're always doing skill with skulls dark clouds whore. I love these five foot clouds when I've mastered my art. I'll paint only clouds or poor miserable people or trees felled by light and you can be sure that people will think you're crazy. So what. I'd rather they think being crazy than be like them.
I'm a rebel. I'm at war war against against everything but that's not a very Christian attitude for a future minute I'll never be a minister. I'm through with all that rot. I want to paint paint whether it pleases you or not will you do whatever you like I don't care what forgive me. I'm always struggling struggling for life in the struggle against nature is sometimes reminiscent of what Shakespeare called The Taming Of The Shrew. Yes nature is a shrew. How gloomy YOU ARE MY POOR. How can I be anything else but that. Do like me you find yourself a girl thank you very much once was enough. You know what I'm going to do I'm going to introduce you to my cousin she's a lovely girl. Please don't bother. Well if you're going to have dinner with us can't you at least me. I said no just one. Don't be like that. All right all right. It will make you feel better. But I hope you don't expect anything to come of it but for once
had reckoned without the miracle of the eternal miracle which suddenly kindles a flame brightly burning. Then suddenly felt like a new man joyful and as gay as a mark in spring. He saw himself leading the life of every man with a home a wife and children. He confessed his love to the girl but I lost my husband only a year ago and I still haven't forgotten. The future for me. The future is my past. It's not possible and no never. Theo No never was like an ominous warning of eternal damnation. I insisted but she left. I wrote her but she sent my letters back and in the village they laughed at me. But I won't give up. I have talked her into it. I want to. I'm supposed to see her father
tonight. I'll tell you about it. Yes tonight I know for sure and it's no use. My daughter doesn't want to. She doesn't want to have anything to do with you. I want her and no one else. She said no and that's that. Don't insist you want me to prove my love for her. Let her come and I'll convince her. All right. I see the slap. I will hold my hand in the flame until she comes and accepts to listen to me. He's out of his mind. Crazy yes crazy if I hadn't gone that lab values. Now he's passed out. But you still won't get my daughter. And so it went. Once again the dream of love was shattered limbs and returned to the realms of darkness and of solitude to the long icy night of his destiny to his painting. The only thing in life he could still hope
to live for in this time there was no turning back. This time Vincent gave himself heart and soul to his true vocation hoping for some answers if not for salvation. One night in a cafe he made the acquaintance of a pale graceless girl who seemed to be waiting waiting for what did she know herself. Her name was Christine. She seemed to have lost the will to live. Hardship heartbreak. I don't always eat my fill and I'm expecting a child. The man left me when he found out. And on top of everything else my mother made the mistake of giving birth to an ugly duckling Life is tough. You know for a girl with my looks I must ask. Too much money. The instant he cared for her in order to Theo he later confided B-29 to me.
You know how to suffer without complaining is the only practical thing. It's the great science. The solution to the problem of life. Fortunately there's the blue sky and the grass and the trees to soothe my restless spirit. I've done a portrait of Christine the great lady. That's the title and another portrait which I call sorrow. It's a nude sitting with her arms crossed crying. As her head drops on a flat chest. I think it's very good you remember what mislay said. How can there be on earth a woman so neglected. Theo. Since they refuse to understand I just have to marry Christine. I prefer danger to the fear of danger. If that be going down into the abyss then I'm going down.
You know that the hope of love of light and in spite of instant deference. Christine broke off the relationship. Once again he summed up his possibilities. Thirty years old now. I think every painter goes through a period where he fumbles in the dark. Groping searching for a technique a style an approach to his art. That's all behind me now I'm sure of myself as an artist. Well then. If I consider how much time I have left to work. I can safely say that my body will easily stand another six to 10 years of hard labor. I have no intention of sparing myself. I don't really care whether I live much longer than that. But what I do know is that I have something very precise to say which I must complete in just a few years. I've met a man
of vital importance to me. A young painter like me his name is Paul Gauguin. He's helped me to discover a culture and what a discovery it was when gold buried his gloomy colors to dream only of light and blazing sunshine. He left for the warm south of France for pass he felt like a new man. He wrote enthusiastic letters and again soon came down to stay with him. My dear god there's so much here that I want to paint. I've asked Theo to send me 100 ident tubes of color yellow green vermilion mine orange blue no longer a normal. It's about time you give me the creeps with your gloomy colors. Where on earth did you find the money to buy all this paper. It's Theo is taking everything he's wanted. I'll pay him back when my paintings begin. What are you working on now. And orchard. I want to do one of those cheerful. I've already sent two
paintings to Theo so that he can show them to our friends. Yes it will how did they react. They criticize us and of course they complain about my sense of values but they'll change their tune later. You'll see I've eliminated relief light dark contrast shadows. It's not possible to have both classical values and the colors I want in one and the same painting. You can't be at the North Pole and at the equator at the same time. Yeah I have to admit that you've really mastered color. I'm like a beginner next to you. Don't be silly. Our styles are different that's all. I hope you're right. Earth to dig up this yellow. It's the yellow of the sun that's what. How beautiful a color yellow is and how beautiful the sun and pulled us. I prefer Brittany myself it's too hot here. Well if you didn't waste so much time and simply painted it you
won't even think of the heat. What are you talking about I am working and not as hard as you. That's true but you you you never stop. Look I did this one yesterday. What's this. Please turn it the other way around. Oh excuse me while I lay flowers. Sun flows. You like that. Yes they're yellow or yellow is the brightness of love. Oh my dear Vincent you really amaze me everything you paint becomes transfigured I am not a refined EST like you I have only one passion. The sun the yellow sun which I see even at night turning round and round inside my head. Round and round like a huge ball of fire like the sun follows turning out of the round in my head to my forehead but slowly but surely that instant was losing control. Wendy threw his glass of absinthe in the Go-Gos face the next day he ran after him in
the street a razor in hand he returned to his room cut off part of one ear and took it in an envelope to Rachel. A waitress. Good evening Rachel. Here's a little present for you. What is it. How strange you seem tonight. But but. You know. The incident was taken to the hospital. He come down eventually and of course he painted he did his famous self-portrait men with a cut here. Rachel came to see him from time to time. She was a simple good hearted girl but she couldn't really understand what it was all about yet she bravely tried to comfort him. What do you expect instant. That's the way it is around you. It's full of feverish people who go crazy. You see things they shouldn't see. Goddamn is right the problem.
This is a strange kind of place full of manly men like me. Rachel I want to leave this place. I need fresh air. I don't want to think here I have to stay. Once again the old team to the rescue. Vincent was taken to. There was a small village near Paris. It was to be his last home. The celebrated doctor guess she took care of him and reported each week to Theo on his brother's condition. My dear Theo your brother really amazes me. Why don't hardwork is in never stops. He's done my perch roach with a white cap and a blue coat. He has not had any attacks in sea arrived in over there. And I don't think you will have any mo oh he is certainly much better.
He told me that he intends to visit you in Paris. Please do write soon and tell me how you found him. Dr. Gushee I found Vincent much better. He came to see me yesterday as you had said he would. But now I'm not well either. I have money problems and Vincent probably noticed it. It depressed him. Perhaps I told him something I shouldn't. He left with a worried look on his face and very nervous. My gosh I want to see Theo in Paris. I came back discouraged. I'm painting huge stretches of wheat beneath the cloudy skies which are meant to express the sadness of life of solitude. Can I stop working now. If I did I wouldn't be able to produce as well as before. I feel there's little hope for the future. I feel I'm a failure.
That's about all I can say for myself. My dear Theo how depressed your brother seems to me on this 14th of July morning. The whole village is celebrating our national holiday. The city hall is a gaily decorated and Vincent has done a painting of it with flags Chinese lanterns and all but strangely enough although the whole population is out in the streets he didn't show a living soul on these canvas. I'm not so sure anymore that he's cured. He goes into Vernon's fits of temper and he is now borrowed a pistol from a peasant and always carries it around with him. Of course he says it's to shoot crows with. My dear brother. I'm writing you this letter feeling at peace with
myself and the world. Almost to peace. I know that everything is useless and I feel you are a nobody an invalid a burden for others. I am working on. I have painted the church of cobalt blue and also the fields of wheat in a rainstorm in the Plateau haunted by the crows. My wheat field is a 70th painting I've done since I arrived in November nearly two and a half months ago. Why his painting is like the agony of the world. Here is Will Vincent. What can he be waiting for. What is he afraid of. And two days after he had finished his black birds in a wheat field on the twenty seventh of July 1890 a warm Sunday the town of oversteer was seemed first to sleep two solitary peasants went off fishing.
Look. Look at that man stumbling along the road. He's talking to himself. Well you see this you have done so well he. Let's help him. No no no don't go now I mean it seems that you. And I. Have a very. Close. There aren't words. Then some and drawn the pistol and turned it against his chest. In spite of the gaping wound he managed to get back to all there. Dr. Gushee came running. He sent word to theall. Vincent spent the whole night calmly smoking without saying a word without storing a single muscle. At dawn Theo arrived for a long time they held each other in a warm embrace. Don't cry. It's better for everyone like this. Be quiet. Guess she is going to take care of you. Everything will be alright. It's no use. Life is too sad.
On July 20 9th at 1:30 in the morning Vincent Van Gogh gave up the ghost. He was 37. What really killed him was his desperate unanswerable search for the secret that lies concealed behind the screen of our reality. It was only after his death that Vincent Van Gogh received recognition for his genius. He had sold just one painting in his lifetime he bequeathed eight hundred and fifty more. And at least as many drawings to the world. I don't understand what does it all mean. There's nothing left of me nothing left of me only paintings color worlds color and forms for other eyes to see. I had no choice but to die. No choice but to step into the black for the eternal light beyond the stars
to us. Good. Morning. You are. You've been listening to the story of a masterpiece. Today. Van Gogh paints crows in a wheat field with Alexander a climbing goal in the title. If you're not a Benedict Helen Bryant David Ellis Drake and Julian was then your narrator was Miles Joyce. This program was written by Patty scalable what I put into English by Benjamin Zimet and directed by Q At least you know when it came to you transcribed from ORTF the French Broadcasting System and pass.
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The story of a masterpiece
Van Gogh: White Field with crows
Producing Organization
French Cultural Services
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3409. This prog.: Van Gogh: White Field with crows
Fine Arts
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Producing Organization: French Cultural Services
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-22-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:34
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Chicago: “The story of a masterpiece; Van Gogh: White Field with crows,” 1968-07-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 29, 2022,
MLA: “The story of a masterpiece; Van Gogh: White Field with crows.” 1968-07-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 29, 2022. <>.
APA: The story of a masterpiece; Van Gogh: White Field with crows. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from