Background Contrary to popular myth Wheat Field with Crows is not Van Gogh's final work.Admittedly, it does make for a neatly wrapped interpretive gift if the painting really were Van Gogh's final work before his suicide.Some see it as Van Gogh's "suicide note" put to canvas, while others delve beyond a superficial overview of the subject matter and favour a more positive approach.And some more extreme critics cast their vision even further--beyond the canvas and the brushstrokes--in order to translate the images into an entirely new language of the subliminal.
Regardless of the perplexities of which works are mentioned in Letter 649, Van Gogh scholar Ronald Pickvance in his book Van Gogh in Saint-Rmy and Auvers supports Dr.Hulsker's argument for an earlier dating of this painting with his own analysis of the letters.Pickvance explores the letters in depth and dates Wheat Field with Crows "contemporaneously from 7 to 10 July", more than two weeks before Van Gogh committed suicide. Daubigny's Garden and Cottages with Thatched Roofs and Figures, both of which are far more likely to have been the last paintings [sic] he made." Thus, given that Wheat Field with Crows is almost certainly not Van Gogh's final work, the "suicide note" interpretation should be cast aside.Van Gogh held a great deal of respect for the forces of nature and includes turbulent skies in a number of his works because the subject is so powerful and so full of artistic potential in the face of an empty canvas.Furthermore, Van Gogh once wrote about the liberating possibilities of storms: "The pilot sometimes succeeds in using a storm to make headway, instead of being wrecked by it." (Letter 197).