Piles of French novels, 1888

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Oil on Canvas, 53 x 73.2 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
  • F 358


This picture is a study for a slightly larger work which Van Gogh named Romans parisiens (Parisian novels). Vincent was an admirer of such French Naturalist writers as Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant. In his opinion, these authors ‘paint’ life ‘as we ourselves feel it.’ The books in this painting symbolised the contemporary life that he believed to have been captured so well by these authors.

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