Self-portrait with pipe, 1886
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
In 1883 Van Gogh had written with regard to his appearance and that of his brother Theo, ‘neither are certain red-haired fellows with square foreheads solely thinkers, nor are they solely men of action; instead, they seem to have combined each of these elements.’ In this portrait, however, he has portrayed himself more as a thinker than as a man of action, regarding us alertly over his pipe. What is striking here is that the shaded side of the face is turned towards us, where most of it is dark. When painting this work, he was particularly enthralled by the effect of the light.