Greatly driven to seek style

Garden of the Asylum

Van Gogh made two versions of Garden of the Asylum. The first was painted spontaneously on the spot. The second painting was more carefully planned. He simplified the colours and made the brushwork more consistent by using fewer kinds of brushstrokes. He wrote to Theo:

The fact is that I feel myself greatly driven to seek style, if you like, but I mean by that a more manly and more deliberate drawing.

Letter to Theo van Gogh, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Sunday, 3 November 1889.

In the second version of Garden of the Asylum, Van Gogh used fewer shades of green in the foliage. At the same time, he echoed the colours of the earth and sky in the canopy of leaves. This strengthened the unity of the painting.

The benches in the garden are darker in colour in the second version. This makes them stand out less and harmonize better with the colours of the trees, the bushes, and the earth.