March 30: Van Gogh

Van-GoghDutch post-impressionist master Vincent van Gogh was born on this day in 1853. Although van Gogh was not well known in his lifetime, his genius became better appreciated in the early 20th century.

Van Gogh produced many works that are now considered to be masterpieces, but his most famous work might be The Starry Night, painted in June of 1889. The painting was a follow up to his September 1888 work Starry Night Over The Rhone in which van Gogh first used some of the stylistic techniques that would be featured in the latter skyscape.

Van Gogh painted The Starry Night during his stay at the asylum at Saint-Rémy and fascinatingly, he said he painted it during the day from memory. The landscape depicted in the painting is a composite of real landscape elements and a few artistic creations. The village of Saint-Rémy is depicted in the center, with the Alpilles mountains on the right. However, the small hill and towering cypress tree seem to be an invention of van Gogh’s.

Van Gogh wrote a letter to his brother Theo on June 19, 1889 announcing that he had finished the painting. This has led some art historians and astronomers to suspect that the night sky is based on the skies of that week. Although there are some historical astronomical sources that suggest that the moon and Venus were in a similar proximity to the Earth in mid June of 1889, many scholars suspect that the placement of van Gogh’s stars were an artistic embellishment.

Van Gogh greatly enjoyed absinthe, and fittingly Lucid Absinthe created a cocktail called Lucid Starry Night. It’s a sweet mix of absinthe and Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka, garnished with a star anise.

Lucid Starry Night

  • 2 1/2 ounces Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Lucid Absinthe Superieure
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

Coat the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with simple syrup and then cover the rim with crumbled chocolate cookies. Shake all the liquid ingredients with ice and strain into the cocktail glass. Place a star anise on top of the drink and let it float.

Tomorrow: One of the world’s most famous landmarks turns 125.


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