Researchers discover grasshopper inside Vincent Van Gogh's "Olive Trees"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After more than a century embedded beneath the paint, researchers discovered a grasshopper beneath the brushstrokes in a Vincent Van Gogh painting at the Nelson Atkins Art Museum.

Paintings Conservator Mary Schafer discovered the tiny grasshopper in the lower foreground of the landscape while working under a microscope. It is not easily seen by the naked eye.

Photo courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins.

According to a news release from the Nelson, Schafer and other researchers hoped the grasshopper could be used to determine a more specific date on the painting.

“It is not unusual to find insects or plant material in a painting that was completed outdoors,” Schafer said. “But in this case, we were curious if the grasshopper could be used to identify the particular season in which this work was painted.”

Unfortunately, entomologists were unable to date the painting, but could determine the grasshopper had died before landing on Van Gogh’s canvas.

Additional research on Van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” is underway. The painting is available for viewing at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. 

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