Boulevard de Clichy, 1887

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Oil on Canvas, 45.5 X 55 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
    (Vincent van Gogh Stichting)
  • F 292

The Boulevard de Clichy is a street in Montmartre, the artists’ neighborhood where Vincent stayed with his brother Theo from March 1886. They lived first on the Rue de Laval for several months and, from June on, in a larger apartment on the Rue Lepic.

The Boulevard played an important role in Van Gogh’s life. The Café du Tambourin and the Moulin Rouge were located here, as was the studio of Fernand Cormon, where he studied for a time. Several of his friends lived here as well: John Russell, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac – the “Impressionistes du Petit Boulevard,” as Vincent referred to them.

More information about "Boulevard de Clichy"

Impressionism and Neo-impressionism

The Boulevard de Clichy and the View of Paris were both painted using small dabs of paint: one employing short strokes, the other tiny dots. Here we see that Van Gogh had come into contact with the latest artistic movements, namely Impressionism and Neo-impressionism.

The View of Paris clearly illustrates the way in which Van Gogh adopted (and adapted) the Neo-impressionist technique. He makes use of complementary colors in the red and green of the shutters in the foreground and he has employed the stippling technique – although very much in his own manner – painting the background in a looser and freer style. The painstaking task of covering the whole canvas with tiny dots was obviously not suited to his temperament.

The Boulevard de Clichy is more Impressionist in style. Fleeting, spontaneous glimpses of street scenes were a favorite subject of these painters. Using a short, quick stroke Van Gogh has depicted the people, the buildings and the light reflections on the road.

Montmartre

Van Gogh painted the Boulevard de Clichy as seen from the Place Blanche, looking northwest. The entrance to the Rue Lepic, which runs up the Montmartre hill, can be seen to the right. He recorded several other parts of his neighborhood in both paintings and drawings as well. There is also a drawing of this same spot, but viewed from a greater distance.

Inspirational Surroundings

Like other painters of his generation, Van Gogh often visited the outskirts of Paris. He found his motifs along the Seine, in parks, woods and suburbs, painting them in the variety of styles and techniques he had now made his own. He often looked to the work of other painters. In his trips along the Seine, for example, he frequently chose the same views of the river that Seurat – whom he much admired – had painted before him.

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