A significant detail was inadvertently included in a Vincent van Gogh painting, but with scholars and art lovers alike it was crickets for 128 years.
A grasshopper, that is.
Researchers looking closely at Vincent van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” painting have discovered part of a grasshopper that has been trapped in the paint for more than a century.
“Van Gogh worked outside in the elements,” Julián Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, which houses the painting, told the Kansas City Star. She added that “we know that he...dealt with wind and dust, grass and trees, and flies and grasshoppers.”
Van Gogh completed “Olive Trees” in St. Remy, France, and the grasshopper – which is missing its thorax and abdomen – was found after a researcher looked at the painting’s brush strokes under a microscope. The inspection was part of a project to analyze the museum’s 104 French paintings.
“But just go and sit outdoors, painting on the spot itself!” van Gogh wrote in an 1885 letter to his brother, Theo, according to the Kansas City Star. “Then all sorts of things like the following happen — I must have picked up a good hundred flies and more off the 4 canvases that you’ll be getting, not to mention dust and sand.”
The bug was dead when it fell onto the canvas, a paleo-entomologist said, and it will be left in the painting.