Visual Analysis Brenda Walker

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Visual Analysis

Brenda Walker

University of Texas at El Paso


This is a visual which covers the rhetorical devices of ethos, pathos and logos contained the painting “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh which was painting in 1889 when he first started painting and became a famous painter. The Starry Night portrays a lot of different views to it, it could have a view on the world itself, God, and bring back memories of your childhood life when you felt lonely and you thought you were alone.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is known for one of the best and well known paintings in modern culture. Van Gogh painted Starry Night while in an Asylum at Saint-Remy in 1889. Vincent Van Gogh sold only this painting in the world he was greatly appreciated for that. Starry Night became his one and only famous painting and this painting shows the achievements of an artist. This painting also shows this lonely city at night with eleven stars sparkling bright in the dark blue sky. It is to believed that this painting is related to be religious, a saying from the bible Genesis 37:9. Vincent Van Gogh wanted to also portray the poverty in this world.

There are many aspects as to why this image is so popular and it intrigues us each differently. Immediately our eyes focus in the middle of this painting, the yellow that first attracts the human eye, the stars and moon that is reflected off the horizon of the city itself. The clouds in the city are swirled attracting the viewers’ attention toward the dark sky and only the stars and moon are showing some color. While these main parts of the painting take ahold of your eye we can see the small city that lies below the horizon the sky. The cool warm dark colors of this painting may spark a childhood memory of some sort and fills your head with loads of imagination. This imagination takes you back to when you were a little kid and you remember the nights you spent under the dark starry sky. The center of this town is the tall steeple of the church; it is recognizable to the eye because it covers the smaller buildings. This church creates somewhat of size and “seclusion” to the human eye. Last there is a massive dark structure to the left of the city. This part of the painting shows an even greater sense of size and isolation to the city and sky. This dark sensation of the painting is like a leafy mountain coming out from the bottom of the city into the blue starry sky. It also is compared to the other things relating to the picture the elven stars all bright on one side of the sky and the moon the brightest thing in the picture to the far upper right of the picture. It all comes together as one by the sensation of the sky with the swirly clouds and the horizon drawing out the small town. Whether or not this painting is inspired by a religious view or created on that topic this is not the only painting Vincent Van Gogh created on the starry sky.

Vincent Van Gogh was not always destined to be a painter, it was until he was 27 when he started painting. When Van Gogh finally was becoming a painter her quickly developed his own style. He stared learning his own style by studying the impressionists and Japanese art. In 1885 Van Gogh moved to Paris, with his brother, Theo, in an apartment, there he started building his career as a famous painter. In Paris he earned little notice in the capital city so in 1887 he moved to a little yellow house in Arles in south France. Van Gogh had a friend which was more like his best friend and he left him after a disagreement they had between them. Vincent van Gogh’s vision of an artist in Arles never happened. After the disagreement with his friend, Paul Gauguin, he became very depressed and during that time Van Gogh famously sliced his own ear off. After the incident with his ear van Gogh was forced into a psychiatric asylum. His dream of becoming an artist in Arles was dashed. Van Gogh left the psychiatric asylum in 1890 and boarded a train to Auverssure-Oise, where he was still feeling depression; he worked till he committed suicide in late July.

Vincent Van Gogh had a short life as a painter, he didn’t have many famous paintings but this one painting “Starry Night” was the one that everyone remembers. His career as a painter was very brief and short but also somewhat powerful, and he left a reflection of his passion and desire as a painter. Van Gogh used brilliant colors and “innovative” brush strokes; he conveyed the emotion and love for humanity in all his paintings especially in this painting below that he failed to do so in his own personal life.

In this painting by Vincent van Gogh there is a logical theme to it. The way the strokes of the brush are painted on the canvas and how the different parts of the painting all come together as a whole. The painting is created in a logic way such as trying to get the attention of the viewer’s eye by making the sky and all the objects in the sky pop out more than anything else in the painting. Looking at this painting there is this imagination where there is this moment in van Gogh’s head and he was struck by a memory of amazing nights in the skies he had. There is a sensation as to where Vincent van Gogh is not alone; there is another part of this world out there when he just sits and stars and the sky. There in his own world he finds a loving God that knows him and will never leave his side.

This painting by Vincent van Gogh can resemble in a religious way but also the imagination that you have in yourself. The “Starry Night” shows a sensation that no other painting can show of a wonderful sky and city put into one all together and showing every detail of the work in one piece. This painting can also bring back a memory of you or as for van Gogh as a childhood memory. The painting shows how Vincent van Gogh was very artistic and enjoyed painting memories and resembling his this painting toward God and how he illustrated the eleven stars in his painting in the sky with the swirly clouds all coming together and telling a story with one picture.


  1. Vincent Van Gogh (1889) “Starry Night”


Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (2010). Vincent van Gogh. Retrieved from

A Brief Understanding of the Starry Night Paintings. Vincent van Gogh: Starry Night. Retrieved from

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