Relevant Trees in Art History

Got your holiday pine yet? This post is dedicated to all those tree martyrs that are annually chopped down, thrust into our homes, and garlanded with festive objects so we can celebrate Christmas, the Russian New Year, or a revived Pagan ritual. Though trees get special attention at this time of year, they are something of a powerful theme for many artists. Let’s take at tour of the arboreal obsessions and notable tree cameos in art history, with a few contemporary takes thrown in to spice things up. Our journey begins with the most perfect mulberry tree in the world… according to Van Gogh.

Vincent van Gogh, Mulberry Tree, October 1889, Oil on canvas, 21-1/4 x 25-1/2 in. (54 x 65 cm), Courtesy Norton Simon Art Foundation

Vincent van Gogh painted this vivid Mulberry Tree between epileptic attacks, at an asylum he checked himself into in Saint-Rémy. He wrote to his brother that it was his favorite of his Mulberry Trees, with leaves of yellow chrome, swirled with the tip of his brush handle. He was very, very fond of this Mulberry Tree.