Ana Smyth asks whether it’s possible that Vincent van Gogh was colour-blind. Discover the answer.
This was a decent theory that emerged about three years ago, but it is now confirmed that Van Gogh was not colour-blind. Research into his development as an artist has in fact revealed that colour was one of his prime concerns.
Early on, he began reading books about colour theory and how this was applied by the artist Eugène Delacroix. And it was only once he had seen Delacroix’s paintings in real life in Paris, and works by other artists, that Vincent understood how he could also achieve the colour effects he sought.
He combined complementary colours in his paintings in order to create the powerful contrasts he was after. Vincent applied the colour theories flawlessly, something he wouldn’t have been able to do if he were colour-blind.
Many of Vincent’s paintings have lost colour over the years, and the red pigments often fade the most. Perhaps this explains the confusion.