Even without the artist’s name on the canvas, the brushwork composition and drawing are unmistakable. This is signature Van Gogh. And yet this painting “Branches With Almond Blossom” is so atypical of the artist’s other works. Shortly after Van Gogh’s arrival in the South of France the fruit trees began to blossom. For Van Gogh they were a trumpeter of spring, the herald of new beginnings, of rebirth. During the spring of 1888 he painted a series of blossoming trees and even when colder temperatures prevented him from painting outdoors he would set up still lifes of the blooms in his studio. It was with the birth of his brother Theo’s son, also named Vincent, that inspired Van Gogh to commemorate the occasion by painting “Branches With Almond Blossom.” This painting stands alone in his body of work. Absent are the frenetic brushstrokes we normally associate with Van Gogh. Instead this painting shows a very careful steady and deliberate hand. Gone are the bold primary colors. Instead Van Gogh uses a very narrow color palette.

Finally it was van Gogh’s practice to paint viewing his subjects head-on or viewing them from a higher elevation looking down on them. Yet here in this painting Van Gogh takes the perspective of looking directly up into the branches of the tree Like so many of his works we can see the influence of Japanese woodblock prints The result is a painting of thoughtful serene beauty. As for the child for whom the painting was created. What happened to his namesake, young Vincent.

He later founded the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.