Van Gogh has always occupied the theme of life. Its ephemerality, its fragility and at the same time its strength. An unhappy person, hardworking, stubborn and refusing to give up hope even in the most hopeless situations, he wrote many times and despair, and a dream, and an indomitable will to live, sometimes embodying it even in the most unobvious things like sunflowers.
“On the verge of eternity” is one of his rare paintings depicting man. The first sketches for her were made in Etten, where Van Gogh made sketches of local residents, and where he met an old, seriously ill peasant, who eventually appeared on his canvas.
The picture shows an old man sitting on a chair near the fireplace. His whole posture expresses despair - his back is hunched over, hands clenched into fists cover his face, elbows rest on his knees. He is clearly broken by some huge grief, and the whole composition of the picture is built around his figure, on which, for the most part, there is nothing.
There is a fireplace burning behind bars - tongues of flame are depicted schematically, with light brush movements, without a hint of realism. The wooden floor is unpainted, the walls are whitewashed. The chair under the peasant seems unsteady, swaying, ready to throw him off at any moment.
Depicting despair, Van Gogh is as detailed as in the image of happiness. The peasant's shoes have spread, they are already very old, and it is clear that they walked a lot in the mud and in the rain. The costume, despite the sketchiness of the image, looks worn. The hair recedes, exposing the bald spot, the beard is neatly trimmed, and it is clear that this man lived a long life, for which if he saw happiness, it is rare even on holidays. Hard work, poverty, and now also illness.
And despite this, the picture looks strangely bright. As if even seeing fear and pain, the artist does not want to part with the thought that life can still be beautiful and that there is always hope - painful and at the same time sweet.
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