Portrait of Jozef Blok, 1882

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Pencil, pen, lithografphic chalk, ink and opaque watercolour on wove paper, 38 x 26 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
    (Vincent van Gogh Stichting)
  • F 993

In November 1882 Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: ‘Do you know who I drew this morning? Blok, the Jewish bookman. Not David but the little fellow who stands in the Binnenhof’. Van Gogh was referring here to his portrait of the street bookseller Jozef Blok (1832-1905), who was sometimes called the ‘Binnenhof’s outdoor librarian’. Among the items Van Gogh bought from him were 21 complete annual series of The Graphic, an English journal from which the artist cut out illustrations for his collection.

More information about "Portrait of Jozef Blok"

Exceptional portrait

In November 1882 Van Gogh had commenced a series of drawings of working-class figures, which included Worn Out. His aim was to present a range of character types, rather than specific individuals. He usually employed an angular drawing style and black drawing materials for these works.
By contrast Van Gogh’s depiction of Blok is a genuine portrait, executed with great care in pencil and watercolour. The artist has also accentuated his subject’s sideburns with black lithographic chalk. Van Gogh’s use of watercolour in the portrait is noteworthy, given his inclination to avoid colour in this period as he found it too problematic.

Worn out Worn out
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