Back to the City - III

Vincent Van Gogh's "Wheatfield and Cypress Trees" in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (LEO Design)


I was standing before my (likely) all-time favorite picture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I heard the rumble.  It was more of a sound (and a vibration) than a shaking.  "Do you hear that?" I asked Bob.  It sounded like a slow-speed freight train passing-by on railway tracks—perhaps half a mile away.  The only problem: there are no freight rail tracks in Central Park.  And the New York City Subway System has spared Fifth Avenue any tracks buried below it.  Moments later, the mobile phones of gallery guards began to ping.  Husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends began to text their loved ones to report the 4.8 magnitude earthquake which could be felt in the city.  Some twenty-six minutes later, phones—of guards and visitors alike—began to shriek with the sound of (urgent?) texted emergency warnings.

I suppose Vincent Van Gogh, the French Impressionist (from Holland), created his own earthquake in the history of painting.  I'm not sure if he felt or heard that rumble, so wrapped-up in his own troubles was he.  Nevertheless, his effect on painting was seismic.  What I love most about Van Gogh is that his work looks as fresh—as spontaneous, vibrant and full-of-life—as if it had been painted yesterday.  In my mind, Van Gogh died way too early, yet, his work remains lively, youthful and exuberant some 140 years later.

This—my favorite painting in the Metropolitan Museum—is so full of motion, energy and feeling.  It is called Wheat Field with Cypresses and it was painted in 1889.  One can see the grasses driven by the breeze, the clouds roiling in the sky and the cypress trees fairly shaking in the wind.  Thick schmears of oil paint add texture and bravura to the canvas. It's perfect!


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248