My favourite painting: Julia Carrick

ISO Luxury founder Julia Carrick chooses a calming van Gogh painting that symbolises hope.

Julia Carrick on Long Grass with Butterflies by Vincent van
Gogh

‘I have always loved van Gogh’s vivid and colourful paintings. This one is reminiscent of my glorious morning and evening walks during lockdown, when I was buoyed by the vitality and beauty around me, at a time that would otherwise have been terribly bleak.

I took to walking miles every day through the beautiful Chiltern Hills. The vibrant colours of the fields of long grass and insects helped me gain a sense of perspective and gratitude. This expressive painting captures all of that.

In what appears at first glance to be such a simple work, van Gogh has evoked the joy and hope of spring with the colour and movement of the grasses and the delight and beauty of the butterflies.

I am passionate about luxury and exemplary craftsmanship and Nature is the greatest form of craftsmanship there is.’

Julia Carrick is the founder of ISO Luxury and a global ambassador for Walpole. In 1998, she
launched the FT’s How To Spend It magazine.

John McEwen on Tamara de Lempicka 

‘We are living in a period in which everybody seems to be talking raving nonsense,’ van Gogh wrote to his sister, Wilhelmina, on July 2, 1889, from the Saint-Paul asylum at Saint-Rémy, where he happily painted his surroundings with materials supplied from Paris by his art-dealer brother Theo.

Wilhelmina was worried about Theo’s health. The artist wrote that he [van Gogh] calmed down by looking ‘at a blade of grass, the branch of a fir tree, an ear of wheat’. He advised her to do the same.

One of his calming pleasures were butterflies, symbols of hope. To the painter Emile Bernard, he wrote: ‘Since nothing confutes the assumption that lines and forms and colours exist on innumerable other planets and suns as well, we are at liberty to feel fairly serene about the possibilities of painting in a better and different existence, an existence altered by the phenomenon is perhaps no more ingenious and no more surprising than the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.’

He painted four butterfly pictures, this one, also titled Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital, shortly before he left for Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, supposedly cured of insanities caused by epilepsy, but probably not of incurable hereditary porphyria, an abnormal metabolism of the blood pigment haemoglobin.

The painting hangs next to his Sunflowers in the National Gallery’s room 43. Dark-blue lines are used for definition. It may explain the blue outline of the white butterflies’ wings, especially as one, for luck as it were, is the same blue all over.

Van Gogh died on July 29 after shooting himself. He was 37, the same age as Raphael was at his death.