Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Paris, summer 1887
oil on cardboard,
19.0 cm x 14.1 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
'People say – and I'm quite willing to believe it – that it's difficult to know oneself – but it's not easy to paint oneself either,' Van Gogh once wrote to his brother Theo. He presents himself in this self-portrait as a respectable bourgeois, wearing an elegant suit and felt hat.
The small painting is done in shades of pastel grey-blue. This was an unusual palette for Van Gogh, who even changed the colour of his eyes to match it. In reality they were green, yet they are shown in this painting as grey-blue. The bright red beard stands out strongly against all the grey tones.