Painting Analysis – “Starry Night” Vincent Van Gogh


When Van Gogh painted Starry Night, he was  in an Asylum at Saint-Remy in 1889. Some may read mental illness into their interpretations of this painting. I do not think it reflects insanity, rather it reflects religiosity.

During Van Gogh’s younger years (1876-1880) he wanted to dedicate his life to spreading Christianity to the poor. Many believe that this religious endeavor may be reflected in the eleven stars of the painting. In Genesis 37:9 the following statement is made:

“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.” 

Count the number of stars in the painting and you will see there are exactly eleven.

Interestingly, the painting is based on Van Gogh’s view from his room in the asylum at night, yet he painted it from memory during the day.

If you would like to see the original painting, you can see it at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, where it is part of the permanent collection.

Many people mistakenly refer to the piece as “Starry Starry Night.” Don McLean uses this phrase in his song, “Vincent.” I believe McLean coined this name of the painting.

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