Self-Portrait, 1887

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Oil on Pasteboard, 19 X 14 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
  • F 296


Here we see the painter in an elegant suit and a gray felt hat. The painting is first and foremost a study in variations of gray: even the eyes, which are usually green, are a striking blue-gray. The red in the face and particularly in the bright red beard make the head stand out from the background.

It is possible that Van Gogh hoped to attract customers for a portrait by portraying himself as a fashionable Parisian.

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Vincent or Theo?

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Portrait of Theo van Gogh, 1887, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) Van Gogh made many self-portraits while staying with Theo in Paris, but it was generally thought that he did not paint his beloved brother. They looked a lot like each other, and the Van Gogh Museum research team now suspect that they are the subjects of these two related portraits (above and right). They were regarded as self-portraits until recently. The man with the grey hat (above) is certainly Vincent, but is he the other bearded man on the right as well? That one has shaved cheeks. Vincent did not but Theo did. His 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. In a word – these two works are companion paintings of Vincent and Theo. Vincent did not overlook his devoted brother after all.

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