Théo van Rysselberghe: Big Clouds – 1893

Indianapolis Museum of Art, USA

With a restricted palette made up mainly of blue-violet and yellow (a combination following Neo-Impressionist colour theory) van Rysselberghe constructs a stunningly beautiful and very simple composition with the sailing ship positioned dead centre within a tranquil sea. The low horizon gives the artist the chance to concentrate on the play of clouds set against a sky which has just seen the sun set.

This image betrays the influence of Symbolism on the Neo-Impressionists – the artist strives to create a contemplative atmosphere – there is no narrative. The viewer constructs their own response to the vibrant, scintillating surface as the complementary points of colour play against one another.

Artist Information

Contemporary Works

1893: Edvard Munch: The Scream, Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet

1893: Mary Cassatt: The Boating Party, Washington DC , National Gallery of Art

Image courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art