Vincent van Gogh immortalised me in one of his last paintings, Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890), where we see the doctor who treated the artist in the last, tortured months of his life.
Dr. Gachet sits at a table, resting his head on one hand. He looks worried. Two stems of foxglove stand in a vase on the table in front of him, painted in the whimsically convoluted way that was van Gogh’s hallmark.
So why am I there? The story has it that Dr. Gachet prescribed foxglove to van Gogh to cure him of his delusions and epileptic fits, and to wean him off unhealthy green absinthe.
Also, in some cases a foxglove-induced intoxication can cause disturbances in sight, in which your vision blurs and – very rarely! – everything looks yellow.
So it might be the case that the fiery yellows in van Gogh’s Starry Night (1889) and Wheatfield with crows (1890) have something to do with an overdose of foxglove.
It’s pure speculation, of course. Others have said it was his strange mind, or a defect in his temporal lobe. And perhaps he just liked the colour.