Real Grasshopper Found In The Paint Of A Van Gogh Masterpiece

By | November 13, 2017

Art curators at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. discovered the remains of a dead grasshopper on the canvas of Van Gogh’s painting Olive Trees. The insect, missing its abdomen and thorax, was found in the brown and green paint in the forefront of the painting.

The grasshopper was likely dead by the time it found itself in the painting, as it did not disturb the paint around it.

Vincent Vang Gogh, “Orchard Trees” 1889.

Van Gogh was a proponent of the plein air method of painting, where an artist depicting the natural world paints outside in nature. He worked outside in the elements and he dealt with wind and dust, grass and trees, flies and grasshoppers.

The artist even once said in a letter to his brother, “I must have picked up a good hundred flies and more off the 4 canvases that you’ll be getting.”

The grasshopper in the painting.

The grasshopper was only discovered during a close study of the painting as a part of an effort to create an online catalog of the 104 French paintings and pastels at the museum.

Mary Schafer, the gallery’s paintings conservator who first spotted the insect said, “It’s not unusual to find this kind of material in paint, but the grasshopper’s discovery connects viewers with van Gogh’s painting style, and the moment in which he made the work.”

The grasshopper will be left in the painting.