Vincent Van Gogh painted 'A Wheatfield, with Cypresses' in September 1889, while in the St-Rémy mental asylum, near Arles, where he was a patient from May 1889 until May 1890. He made a promise to his brother that, while hospitalized, he would send 'twelve size 30 canvases' and it seems likely that 'A Wheatfield, with Cypresses' was one of them.
Now, it has become the first living painting in London's Trafalgar Square, and maybe the first living painting anywhere. Á Wheatfield with Cypresses' has been turned into a green living vertical wall, and is being used as a way to get people into the National Gallery to see the real thing.
The living painting has been constructed by a horticulture and design company which specialises in green walls and roofs. They used over 8,000 plants of 25 different varieties. In order to recreate the strong bands of colour in the painting, plants were selected to match the tones. They were then hand-planted into a modular system according to a numbered drawing. The 640 modules were grown vertically at a nursery, ready for installation.
It took 3 days to install the wall which will remain there throughout the summer and autumn, until the end of October. Given the range of plants; some flowering now, some later, it will be interesting to watch how it grows and changes over the coming seasons.
The painting was "brought to life" as part of the Gallery's long-term plan to reduce its carbon footprint. It's all part of the National Gallery's plan to go green.
It's a good thing.