The largest exhibition of works by Vincent van Gogh ever to come to Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria’s Van Gogh and the Seasons, explores the cycle of nature that governed the artist’s spiritual and artistic life. But while most people are familiar with Van Gogh’s tumultuous personal life and his struggles with mental health – not to mention the incident with the ear – how important was the changing of the seasons for the artist?

Van Gogh was the son of a Protestant Minister of a Dutch reformed church and it was through his father that the future artist began to link spirituality with the natural world. “He was taken on nature rambles by his father and was taught to see the proof of the existence of God in the wonders of nature,” explains Dr Ted Gott, the NGV’s Senior Curator of International Art. “His father preached in his weekly sermon about how the four seasons reflect the cycle of life – spring: childhood, summer: adulthood, autumn: your sixties and seventies, and winter: old age. And also how the parables of reaping and sowing souls parallels sowing the feed to grow the grain and then harvesting the wheat in...

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