Vincent van Gogh Self Portrait in Paris

Vincent van Gogh Autoportrait

Винсент Ван Гог Автопортреты

Oil painting on a small size hand weaved canvas; 35cm x 21,5 cm

Vincent van Gogh in Paris

Vincent van Gogh in Paris Apple Boutique

An oil painting on a small size hand weaved canvas; 35cm x 21,5 cm, bearing traces of pinning on the upper corners, and was certainly never set on a stretcher.
It also shows traces of folding and an amateurish cleaning (part of the left moustache and beard are missing).
Freshly varnished and glued on a cardboard (for a quick reselling?).
The small painting depicts with dark colours a gaunt face, which could correspond to the artist’s condition; when newly arrived in Paris from Anvers, physically diminished with stomach problems, Vincent who lived by his brother Theo, had to undergo a mouth operation where he lost almost all his teeth and nearly famished to death.

Very little is known from this period, most of what we know being based on the brother’s reciprocal letters and scarce letters to relatives and friends.

2nd half June 1886

Fortunately we’re doing well in our new apartment. You would not recognize Vincent, he has changed so much, and it strikes other people even more than it does me. He has undergone an important operation in his mouth, for he had lost almost all his teeth through the bad condition of his stomach. The doctor says that he has now quite recovered.

Theo to mother

If I am right this portrait could have been inspired from the art of Louis Anquetin.

It is of common knowledge that Vincent tied strong bonds with Emile Bernard, Toulouse Lautrec and Louis Anquetin in the atelier Cormond.

Anquetin and Bernard developed a painting style that used flat regions of color and thick, black contour outlines. This style, named cloisonnism by critic Edouard Dujardin, was inspired by both stained glass and Japanese ukiyo-e.

In this painting an early cloisonnism is detectable, bold and flat forms with flat regions of colour and the prospect of a portrait of van Gogh by Anquetin is I think to exclude.

One example of Van Gogh and Anquetin mutual work can be seen in “Avenue de Clichy: Five O’Clock in the Evening”, which is said to have inspired Van Gogh in painting his famous Cafe Terrace at Night.

In 1886 Vincent begins a series of Self-portraits, turning to his own image: “I deliberately bought a good mirror so that if I lacked a model I could work from my own likeness.”

Vincent van Gogh will paint 25 self-portraits in Paris.

Vincent van Gogh portrait Vincent van Gogh Self Portrait Paris


Vincent van Gogh in Paris
Vincent van Gogh Self Portrait Paris


“The range of his experiments in style and colour can be read in the series.
The earliest are executed in the greys and browns of his Brabant period; these somber colours soon give way to yellows, reds, greens, and blues, and his brushwork takes on the disconnected stroke of the Impressionists.”

To his sister he writes: “My intention is to show that a variety of very different portraits can be made of the same person.”

I found a great similarity with a drawing of Vincent van gogh by Leavens.


Vincent van Gogh Lievens
Vincent van Gogh Lievens


Vincent lost a dozen teeth consequently of his bad habits regarding food and eating. Adding to his poorly-clad wretch looks, his toothless smile must have repelled people.
Though he had paid little attention to his appearance so far, when he arrived in Anvers, in a big city, he felt the urge of taking care of himself and being more presentable. .
“ As for my physical appearance, I must improve it a little. I’m having my teeth done. I lost a dozen teeth. That’s too much, I resent it. I look more than forty years old, it harms me. I have thus decided to arrange that.”
In Paris, a few months after his arrival, he undergoes a new teeth surgery and wears dentures which improve his appearance a good deal.
I thought I had found the explanation in a portrait of Rembrandt van Rijn as the Apostle Paul, 1661.When I first examined this portrait – what disturbed me the most was the expression; I could not understand his behaviour, raising eyebrows in such an atypical manner.

Because the message, I think, in Rembrandt’s painting is the revelation of the true light.
Saint Paul (as you know Saul) was confronted to a powerful light and converted to Christianity.


I consequently wondered if Vincent, confronted to the light of Paris and to all these different techniques and enlightened palettes – had an eye-opening shock.

It could also be a simple homage to the master of the light: Rembrandt.

“It is legitimate to think that van Gogh was inspired by its favourite’s painters for the art of portrait, Rembrandt and Delacroix.”
From introduction: Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov.
Musée d’Orsay. 2 Février – 15 Mai 1988 Van Gogh a Paris. Edition de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris 1988.

On the radiography repents are clearly visible, the head was initially oriented more on the right, which confers an additional nose and three eyes to the subject.
The repents are the mark of a genuine investigation.

Vincent van Gogh X Ray Radiography
Vincent van Gogh X Ray Radiography


A hallucinated man looking to its own soul with wonder, one of the most profound introspective portraits I was ever given to

Vincent van Gogh Self Portrait in Paris



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