Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, September 1889
oil on canvas,
73 cm x 60.5 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Van Gogh based his Pietà on a lithograph of a painting by Eugène Delacroix. In fact, it is more a variation on the original work than a copy. From Delacroix, Van Gogh took the theme of the Virgin Mary mourning the dead Christ, as well as the composition. He added his own colour and personal signature.
The painting resulted from an accident. Van Gogh wrote, 'that lithograph of Delacroix, the Pietà, with other sheets had fallen into some oil and paint and got spoiled. I was sad about it – then in the meantime I occupied myself painting it, and you'll see it one day.' The lithograph has survived, complete with stain.