Van Gogh was captivated by the colours of the landscape around the town of Arles (FR). He particularly loved the contrast between the yellow and purple flowers in the fields.
In the landscape, he felt he could see a reflection of the world he knew from his collection of Japanese prints. Japanese artists used large areas of colour in their compositions, often with a sharp diagonal. They also regularly zoomed in on a detail in the foreground. Van Gogh adopted these elements in his paintings. It was just like 'a Japanese dream,' he wrote in a letter to his brother Theo.
The painting was recently examined and restored. In the process, the old discoloured varnish layer which had dulled the colours was removed. The colours are now much brighter.