Portrait of Theo van Gogh, 1887

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Oil on Pasteboard, 19 X 14 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
  • F 294


According to prevailing opinion, Vincent van Gogh never painted his brother Theo, his confidant and staunchest ally. But the two brothers looked quite similar. After exhaustive study of 93 paintings by Van Gogh in his Antwerp and Paris periods the Van Gogh Museum’s senior researcher Louis van Tilborgh is convinced that one of the many ‘self-portraits’ by Vincent van Gogh is in fact a portrait of his brother Theo. This conclusion is based on a number of striking differences between Theo’s en Vincent’s features. Theo’s portrait, made in 1887, shows a man with shaved cheeks. Theo’s beard is not ‘red’ like Vincent’s, but more ochre. On top of that, this man’s ear has a fine rounded shell, unlike Vincent’s but like Theo’s. Vincent did not overlook his devoted brother after all.

See also the companion painting of this work, Van Gogh's self-portrait (1887).

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