Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Paris, January-February 1887
oil on cardboard,
32.7 cm x 40.8 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Dirty old shoes: this was not the first time that Van Gogh painted this unusual subject. These ones have worn soles and sagging elastic. He had a preference for things ‘that bore the scars of life’. Only then were they of interest to him.
In this picture, Van Gogh used oil paint heavily thinned with turpentine. You can see this from the way the line at the back of the right-hand shoe has dribbled downwards. Thinned oil paint produces a similar effect to watercolour and is known as peinture à l’essence. Van Gogh had only recently begun to experiment with this medium.