Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity’s Gate) by Vincent Van Gogh

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Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate) by Vincent van Gogh

Painting NameSorrowing Old Man
Painter NameVincent Van Gogh
Completion Date1890
Place of CreationFrance
Size80 cm × 64 cm (31.5 in × 21.2 in)
Current LocationKröller-Müller Museum Otterlo Netherlands

Displaying mental distress with insane feelings of the sorrow, the picture describes an old man crying over for unknown reasons.  He is stressed out and looks unable to bear any more stress as he is trying to hide from the tensed world by concealing his eyes behind his fists. The support by the elbow represents his weakness and inability to cope more with the undesired situations. The strongly closed fist may represent the anger inside him which has aroused after many years of anxiety and strain as those are the essential factors for anger. The flames in the fireplace at backdrop may represent the fiery agony by which the old man is suffering and has become an infinite struggle.

Van Gogh firstly made draft of this portrayal in 1882 while researching on the prisoners and war veteran in The Hague. But it was just a simple outline. In 1890, two months before his death, he recalled his idea due to the shortage of new inspirations in the four walls of Saint Remy’s Asylum. The reason of recalling this particular idea could be his worsening mental condition which, allegedly, made him shoot himself in a wheat field.

The given title to the painting is a perfect fit for the picture as the old man is sorrowing for his misery. While the second half of the title suggests the next big step of any elderly person’s life – death. Here the title talks about the age which could be called as the being at the gate of eternity, the life after death. So, we could say that apart from the unknown misery, the old man is also sorrowing because the end of his life is very near and he will have to confront whatever will be there in the life after grave.

The grief and the pain he experienced throughout his lifetime in his mind are vividly reflecting in the current picture. Well, it’s very interesting observation that the painting which he made watching a war prisoner or veteran sorrowing for his losses, turned out the reflection of his own life, if we think in that way.

Other similar gloomy paintings by Vincent van Gogh are The Night Cafe and Portrait of Dr Gachet, which were produced during his last years. These sad pictures are the projection of the artist’s unfortunate life and depressing emotions he suffered for years, which led him to a mental hospital first and then to kill himself.

Though, the emotions he portrayed on this and other canvases are Most Expensive Paintings by Vincent Van Gogh.


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