Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Paris, November 1887
oil on canvas,
65.8 cm x 54.5 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Etienne-Lucien Martin owned a restaurant in Paris, where Van Gogh was a regular customer. Martin allowed him to hold an exhibition there of his own work and that of his friends. Van Gogh probably painted this portrait to express his gratitude. But Martin never received it. Soon after the exhibition opened, they quarrelled. Martin claimed the pictures were spoiling the appetite of his customers. The exhibition closed early.
Van Gogh painted le patron (the boss) in his working clothes. He originally used brighter colours for the portrait but changed his mind and chose muted tones instead. The red pigment has faded over time, unintentionally making the colours even softer than Van Gogh intended.