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The Cover
August 3, 2005


Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(5):529. doi:10.1001/jama.294.5.529

That summer the flower gardens and wheatfields of Provence crackled with color. It was August 1888 and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was in Arles. He saw yellows he had only dreamt of, blues deeper than night, reds that blazed like hellfire, greens as fathomless as the ocean. Urgently he wrote his brother Theo in Paris and ordered tubes of the entire rainbow: malachite green, Prussian blue, geranium lake, and yellows: citron, three varieties of chrome, and one that he could turn into the color of fresh-churned butter. Vincent ordered the colors not only in variety, but in quantity, 10 and 20 of the largest tubes available, he instructed Theo. Only zinc white and flake white exceeded the quantities of the yellows he ordered. And five meters of canvas. The latter seemed almost an afterthought. He had to have something to put the color on.

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