Self-Portrait with Portrait of Gauguin, 1888

Emile Bernard (1868-1941)

  • Oil on Canvas, 46.5 x 55.5
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
    (Vincent van Gogh Stichting)

In 1888 Emile Bernard worked with Paul Gauguin in Pont-Aven, in Brittany. Here he produced this self-portrait, which he inscribed with the text “à mon copaing Vincent” and sent to his friend Vincent in Arles. Van Gogh had actually requested a portrait of Gauguin, but Bernard replied that he did not feel confident enough to paint his older, better-known colleague. By way of a compromise he painted this self-portrait in blue and green tints, including Gauguin’s head in the background as a stylised drawing. Van Gogh was enthusiastic about the gift – “a couple of simple tones, a couple of dark lines, but it is [as] elegant as a real, genuine Manet”. Gauguin also sent Van Gogh a self-portrait, which included a portrait of Emile Bernard in the background.

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