Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Paris, December 1887-February 1888
oil on canvas,
65.1 cm x 50 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Please note: This painting is not on view in the museum galleries at the moment. It will be part of the exhibition Van Gogh & Japan, on view from 26 August 2017 in the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo, after which it will travel to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and The National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto.
Van Gogh presented himself in this self-portrait as a painter, holding a palette and paintbrushes behind his easel. He showed that he was a modern artist by using a new painting style, with bright, almost unblended colours. The palette contains the complementary colour pairs red/green, yellow/purple and blue/orange – precisely the colours Van Gogh used for this painting. He laid these pairs down side by side to intensify one another: the blue of his smock, for instance, and the orange-red of his beard.
Self-Portrait as a Painter was the last work Van Gogh produced in Paris; the city had exhausted him both mentally and physically. He told his sister Wil how he had portrayed himself: ‘wrinkles in forehead and around the mouth, stiffly wooden, a very red beard, quite unkempt and sad’.