Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Arles, June 1888
oil on canvas,
65 cm x 81.5 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Can you see why these fishermen's boats appear slightly unreal? Compared to the irregular surface of the sandy beach, they've been painted in an overly two-dimensional way. The boats are made up of areas of uniform colour within strong outlines. Furthermore, the boats don't cast shadows on the beach. These stylistic elements were familiar to Van Gogh from his collection of Japanese prints.
Van Gogh would have preferred to make this painting on the beach, but he couldn't, because the fishermen put out to sea very early every morning. He did draw the boats there, however, and later made this painting at home.