Vincent van Gogh painted La Berceuse (the lullaby) five times between the years of 1888 and 1890. One of these versions portrays Madame Roulin, the wife of a postman in Arles, as the subject holding on to a rope that could rock a cradle that isn’t present in the painting. Van Gogh found inspiration within his maternal image of Madame Roulin to portray her as a comforting figure that evokes memories of happier days.
Completed in January 1889, this particular version was created after Van Gogh’s stay at a hospital following Paul Gauguin’s departure. The title La Berceuse signifies consolation and suggests serene tranquility with its subdued color palette. Madame Roulin is represented primarily as a mother offering comfort and support through her gaze and pose while holding the rope between her hands.
Van Gogh believed that art should evoke complex emotions through alternative strategies, which is clearly evident in this portrait. On closer inspection, there are subtle details like the fabric patterns on her dress or hair hiding part of her right earlobe, which show remarkable attention to detail. Through relentless experimentation with subjects such as laundry hanging from lines or fields dotted by cypress trees seen throughout his works’ many variations, it’s clear that Van Gogh wanted to capture every nuance perfectly.
Overall, Vincent van Gogh’s La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin) painting represents pastoral tranquility infused with deeply personal symbolism meant to evoke consolation for anyone feeling lost or alone. Its serene repose conveys an unmistakable sense of compassion and reassurance showing how powerful art can be in conveying emotion when done right.