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A grasshopper has been stuck in a Van Gogh painting for over a century

Experts have discovered a grasshopper in one of the most emblematic works of Vincent Van Gogh, the irrefutable proof of the painter's connection with nature.

Art curators at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas discovered the remains of a grasshopper dating back more than a century, embedded in Olive Trees, the iconic painting by Vincent Van Gogh that is exhibited in that museum. The findings were made through a combination of historical research and scientific analysis of the work of the Dutch painter.

Impressionism has its great complexities, not only because of the technique that puts light and color as protagonists but because capturing the very essence of landscapes meant doing it while observing what one wanted to capture. 

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For this reason, many of the leading exponents of Impressionist painting, including Van Gogh, were fierce advocates of painting in the open air. And although we can observe the brilliant results, the painters simply had to deal with the wind, dust, and branches during their art. But they were not the only surprise ingredients that managed to sneak into the Impressionist paintings.

During his stay at the Saint Rémy de Provence asylum, in France, Van Gogh made one of his most emblematic works called The Olives. And the curators who are currently in charge of caring for the painting exhibited at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas discovered a fortuitous member in its pictorial composition. A grasshopper that has inhabited Van Gogh's painting for more than a century.

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A grasshopper as a pictorial composition in Van Gogh

The remains of the insect were found in the lower part of the landscape, however, visitors cannot appreciate it with the naked eye as it requires a closer approach to achieve it. 

The find was made while curators analyzed the painting to better understand Van Gogh's creative process; but instead, they encountered an unexpected situation that led them to other questions.

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After glimpsing the presence of the insect, the team contacted a paleontologist at the University of Kansas to properly identify the tiny inhabitant. Professor Michael S. Engel discovered that the insect's thorax and abdomen were missing. In addition, he pointed out that no trace of movement is observed in the surrounding painting. So he concluded that the grasshopper was already dead before landing directly on Van Gogh's canvas. Probably driven by the wind.

In addition to representing a beautiful landscape painted by the controversial Dutch artist, Olive Trees is also home to some remains of a small grasshopper that lived more than a century ago, at the same time that Van Gogh did. 

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Undoubtedly the surprises that the history of art encompasses are so interesting that they can make us change the vision of work forever. In Olive Trees, beyond the landscape itself, we have irrefutable proof of the connection between the painter and nature.

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