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Art / The Starry Night

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The Starry Night is an oil painting created by Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, it describes the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an ideal village.

It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941, having been acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. Regarded as among Van Gogh's finest works, The Starry Night is one of the most recognized paintings in the history of Western culture.


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The Starry Night provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Astronomy: He depicts both the morning star/Venus and a crescent moon. One could not see the morning star when a crescent moon is present. A more accurate depiction would have the moon be a waxing gibbous.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Having painted The Starry Night through the bars of his asylum window, Vincent took a lot of liberties when depicting the landscape. For one, he could not see the town. The steeple looked nothing like how he depicts it, the steeple in the painting evoking more the kind you would see in Holland.
  • Expy: The swirls occurring in the night sky bare a strong resemblance in then-published observations of nebulae and galaxies.
  • The Muse: The painting inspired Don McLean to write "Starry Starry Night" in honor of the painter.
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  • Trope Codifier: For the Post-Impressionist movement.


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