Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Arles, December 1888
oil on burlap,
38.2 cm x 33.8 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Van Gogh painted his friend, the artist Paul Gauguin, in their studio in the Yellow House. He made this small portrait on jute – an unusual but inexpensive material. Gauguin had bought some in Arles for the two of them to use. The coarse structure of the cloth made painting difficult, so Van Gogh applied the paint thickly and opted for a strong red-green contrast.
He wrote to his brother Theo that Gauguin was working on 'a big still life of an orange pumpkin and some apples and white linen on a yellow background and foreground'. Gauguin was probably working on that still life while Van Gogh painted this portrait: you can see the yellow background and spherical form on the left.