Vincent van Gogh described it in detail in a letter to his brother Theo: ‘The one landscape I’m taking with me […] the one with the yellow leaves: I think you’d like it too. […] The horizon is a dark line against a light line of sky in white and blue. In this dark line little flecks of red, bluish and green or brown, forming the silhouette of the roofs and orchards, the field greenish. The sky higher up, grey, against it the black trunks and yellow leaves. Foreground completely covered with fallen yellow leaves, in which 2 little black figures and one blue. On the right a birch trunk, white and black, and a green trunk with red-brown leaves.’
Van Gogh was one of the forerunners of Expressionism. An important similarity with the later Expressionists is the use of colour that he describes in his letter and his way of applying paint. The biggest difference between Van Gogh and the Expressionists is the perspective. In Van Gogh’s paintings the perspective clearly creates three-dimensional space, whereas the art of the Expressionists appears flat.
Edvard Munch was a pioneer of Expressionism but also a representative of late-19th-century Symbolism.