Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903), Arles, 1888
oil on canvas,
73 cm x 91 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Was Van Gogh really painting a vase of sunflowers when his friend Gauguin produced this portrait of him? No, he can’t have been: it was December and far too late in the year for sunflowers. But it’s quite probable that Van Gogh painted a copy of one of his own sunflower pictures around this time. The landscape in the background is also fictional: unlike Van Gogh, Gauguin liked to work from his imagination. They often argued about this. This painting refers to their disagreement.
Later, Van Gogh wrote about this portrait: ‘My face has lit up a lot since, but it was indeed me, extremely tired and charged with electricity as I was then.’