In the spring of 1888, Van Gogh was living in Arles and very interested in working outdoors to capture the blossoming orchards. Although the weather was getting nicer, it was not always the best conditions for painting en plein air. In a letter to his brother Theo from March 30 of 1888 Van Gogh wrote,
“But every day is a good day now – not meaning the weather, on the contrary there are three windy days to one that’s quiet – but those orchards in bloom that there are to paint!
I find painting hard work because of the wind, but I fasten my easel to pegs driven into the ground and work in spite of it, it is too lovely.”
While many of Vincent’s letters to Theo were conversational, about family or work, in some letters Van Gogh placed orders for paints or requests for Theo to send other supplies or money. In one such letter from April 4, 1888, Van Gogh was in the midst of a creative rush to do as many studies of the blossoming orchards as he could while their beauty lasted. In this letter he wrote,
“You see of course that if you buy the paints for me, my expenses here will be at 50%. So far I have spent more on my paints, canvas, etc., than on myself.
I have still another orchard for you, but for heaven’s sake send me the paints without delay. The flowering time is over so soon, and you know this kind of subject delights everybody.”
Van Gogh’s hope was that his paintings of orchards would have mass appeal and therefore would sell well. He encouraged Theo to send more money if he could, but also expressed understanding that Theo may have other financial concerns. On April 8, Van Gogh wrote to Theo with another plea to help him continue his paintings of the orchards.
“If you can finance a rather heavy month, so much the better, since orchards in bloom are the kind of thing one has some chance of selling or exchanging.
But it occurred to me that you have to pay your rent, so you must tell me if things are too steep.”
Unfortunately, Van Gogh’s orchard paintings did not sell, but they still appeal to the masses today as beautiful depictions of the spring season.