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About This Artwork
Oil on artist's board, mounted on cradled panel
41 x 32.5 cm (16 1/8 x 12 13/16 in.)
Joseph Winterbotham Collection, 1954.326
In 1886 Vincent van Gogh left his native Holland and settled in Paris, where his beloved brother Theo was a dealer in paintings. Van Gogh created at least twenty-four self-portraits during his two-year stay in the energetic French capital. This early example is modest in size and was painted on prepared artist’s board rather than canvas. Its densely dabbed brushwork, which became a hallmark of Van Gogh’s style, reﬂects the artist’s response to Georges Seurat’s revolutionary pointillist technique in A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884. But what was for Seurat a method based on the cool objectivity of science became in Van Gogh’s hands an intense emotional language. The surface of the painting dances with particles of color—intense greens, blues, reds, and oranges. Dominating this dazzling array of staccato dots and dashes are the artist’s deep green eyes and the intensity of their gaze. “I prefer painting people’s eyes to cathedrals,” Van Gogh once wrote to Theo. “However solemn and imposing the latter may be—a human soul, be it that of a poor streetwalker, is more interesting to me.” From Paris, Van Gogh traveled to the southern town of Arles for fifteen months. At the time of his death, in 1890, he had actively pursued his art for only five years.
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Berlin, Galerie Paul Cassirer, 10. Ausstellung, May–June 1914, cat. 28.
Frankfurt-am-Main, Galerie M. Goldschmidt, Vincent van Gogh, March 15–April 15, 1928, cat. 18.
Berlin, Galerie Paul Cassirer, Vincent van Gogh: Gemälde, January 1928, cat. 29.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Vincent van Gogh en zijn Tijdgenooten, September 6–November 2, 1930, cat. 25, ill. frontispiece.
Amsterdam, E. J. van Wisselingh and Co., Exposition d’art française: Peinture du XIXme et Xxme siècle, January 7–February 4, 1933, cat. 13.
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Chris Stolwijk and Han Veenenbos, Account Book of Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger (Amsterdam and Leiden, 2002), pp. 11 (ill.), 54, 130, 169 (ill.).
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The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (New Haven and London, 2008), cat. 57, pp. 122–23 (ill.).
Mme Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, the artist’s sister in law, Amsterdam; sold through Frankfurter Kunstverein to Leonhard Tietz (died 1914), Cologne, in February 1912 [see records in van Gogh-Bonger’s account book: "19/2 2-1912 'Kunstverein Frankfurt portret' 2942.50 [guilders]" and "95/15 2-1912 'ontvangen uit Frankfort Kunstverein voor portret' 2942.50 [guilders]" in Stolwijk and Veenenbos 2002; see also Cologne 1912 where Leonard Tietz is listed as the owner]; by inheritance to his son, Alfred Tietz, Cologne until at least 1930 [acc. to Amsterdam 1930]. E. J. van Wisselingh and Co., Amsterdam, 1933 [it was included in two exhibitions at van Wisselingh]. Bignou Art Gallery, New York [based on undated photograph of the painting no. 2156 in an album of French paintings and drawings that passed through the Bignou Gallery preserved at the Frick Art Reference Gallery]; sold to Joseph Winterbotham, Burlington, Vermont by at least 1935 [see Joseph Winterbotham’s letter to Robert Harshe, dated June 10, 1935, copy in curatorial file]; given to the Art Institute, 1954.