The Bedroom

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Vincent van Gogh
Dutch, 1853-1890

The Bedroom, 1889

Oil on canvas
73.6 x 92.3 cm (29 x 36 5/8 in.)
Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.417

Vincent van Gogh's three versions of this composition are the only record he made of the interior of the Yellow House, where he lived while he was in Arles in the south of France. The house embodied the artist's dream of a "Studio of the South," a community of like-minded artists working in harmony to create art for the future. The first version of The Bedroom (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) was one of the paintings Van Gogh made to decorate the house in anticipation of the arrival of his first guest, Paul Gauguin. "It's just simply my bedroom," he wrote, "only here color is to do everything ... to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In a word, looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination." Gauguin's stay at the Yellow House would be fraught with tension: after two months, Van Gogh's self-mutilation and Gauguin's flight back to Paris ended the Studio of the South. Van Gogh made this second version of The Bedroom about a year after the first, while he was living at an asylum in Saint-Rémy.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Galerie Vollard, 1895, no cat.

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Vincent van Gogh, March 15–31, 1901, cat. 19, as La Chambre de Vincent à Arles.

Vienna Secession, Internationalen Kunstschau, May–October 1909, room 14, cat. 1, as Das Schlafzimmer.

Berlin, Paul Cassirer, Zehnte Ausstellung: Vincent van Gogh: 30 März 1853–29 Juli 1890, May–June 1914, cat. 53, as Das Schlafzimmer.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, November 8–December 7, 1929, cat. 79, as Van Gogh's Room at Arles (La Chambre à Arles).

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, June 1–November 1, 1933, cat. 376, p. 54.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, June 1–November 1, 1934, cat. 310, p. 47.

Toledo Museum of Art, French Impressionists and Post Impressionists, November 1934, cat. 24.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings and Drawings by Vincent van Gogh, lent through the Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., August 26–September 23, 1936, not in cat.

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, Vincent van Gogh Paintings, March 30–July 29, 1990, cat. 7.

Essen, Museum Folkwang, Vincent van Gogh und die Moderne 1890–1914, August 11–November 4, 1990, cat. 40, as Das Schlafzimmer; traveled to Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, November 16, 1990–February 18, 1991.

Art Institute of Chicago, Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South, September 22, 2001–January 13, 2002, cat. 120.

Fort Worth, Texas, Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, cat. 58.

Art Institute of Chicago, Van Gogh’s Bedrooms, February 14–May 10, 2016, cat. 21.

Publication History

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, "Exhibition of French Paintings from a Well-Known Collection," Bulletin of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 14, 4 (April 1925), pp. 31–32.

Forbes Watson, "A Note on the Birch Bartlett Collection," The Arts, 9, 6 (June 1926), pp. 303–06 (ill.), 307–13.

R.M.F. Van Gogh in Arles, Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, 20, 7, (October 1926), pp. 92–94.

Art Institute of Chicago, Annual Report (Art Institute of Chicago, 1926), p. 54 (ill.).

Jacob Baart de la Faille, L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: catalogue raisonné (G. van Ouest, 1928), vol. 1, p. 138, n. 484; vol. 2, pl. 134.

Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Paintings in the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial from the Birch-Bartlett Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1929), pp. 22–23.

Vincent van Gogh, Further Letters to His Brother, 1886–1889 (Constable and Co., 1929), pp. 234–35, 280, 371–72.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1932), p. 27 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Art Institute of Chicago, 1935), pp. 30 (ill.), 31.

W. Scherjon and Jos. de Gruyter, Vincent van Gogh's Great Period: Arles, St. Rémy and Auvers sur Oise (Complete Catalog) (De Spieghel, 1937), p. 140 (ill.), n. 12.

Jacob Baart de la Faille, Vincent van Gogh, trans. Prudence Montagu-Pollock (Hyperion, 1938), p. 362 (ill.), n. 510.

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpiece of the Month, Notes and Bibliography (Art Institute of Chicago, 1938), pp. 18–19 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Art Institute of Chicago, 1941), pp. 36 (ill.), 37.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Art Institute of Chicago, 1945), p. 40 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Paintings in the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial from the Birch-Bartlett Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1946), pp. 18–19 (ill.).

Louis Hautecoeur, Van Gogh (Les Documents d'Art, 1946), pp. 78, 144.

Egbert Jacobson, Basic Color (Paul Theobald, 1948), pp. 174–76 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Art Institute of Chicago, 1948), p. 37 (ill.).

Meyer Schapiro, “Vincent van Gogh,” The Library of Great Painters (Harry N. Abrams, 1950), pp. 78–79 (ill.).

Charles Fabens Kelley, “Chicago: record years,” Art News, 51, 4 (June–August 1952), pp. 52–65, 106–08, 109 (ill.), 110¬–11.

Lawrence and Elisabeth Hanson, Passionate Pilgrim: The Life of Vincent Van Gogh (Random House, 1955), pp. 209–10.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Art Institute of Chicago, 1956), p. 36 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), pp. 198, 328 (ill.).

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo, 84 (September 1966), pp. 194, fig. 16, 197.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (Thames and Hudson, 1970, repr. 1977. 1987), pp. 93 (ill.), 94.

Paolo Lecaldano, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Van Gogh, vol. 2: 1888–1890, trans. Simone Darses, vol. 2 (Rizzoli/Flammarion, 1971), pp. 220 (ill.), 221, n. 690.

Katharine Kuh, “These Are A Few of My Favorite Things,” Chicago Tribune Magazine, April 23, 1972, p. 32.

Mike Samuels, M.D. and Nancy Samuels, Seeing with the Mind’s Eye: The History, Techniques and Uses of Visualization (Random House, 1975), p. 76, pl. 2.

John L. Word, “A Reexamination of Van Gogh’s Pictorial Space,” The Art Bulletin 58, 4 (December 1976), pp. 593¬–604.

Guy Hubbard and Mary J. Rouse, ART: Discovering and Creating. (Benefic Press, 1977), p. 102 (ill.).

Paolo Lecaldano, L’opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh, (Rizzoli Editore, 1977), vol. 2, p. 220 (ill.), 221, n. 690.

Janice Feldstein and Maureen Smith, The Art Institute of Chicago: 100 Masterpieces (Art Institute of Chicago/Rand McNally & Co., 1978), pp. 116–17 (color ill.), n. 69.

Robert H. Pelfrey and Mary Hall-Pelfrey, Art and Mass Media (Harper & Row, 1985), pp. 182–83 (fig. 7.23), 126 (pl. 18), 184.

Peter C. Sutton, A Guide to Dutch Art in America (Netherlands-American Amity Trust, 1986), p. 54, fig. 77.

Richard R. Brettell, “The Bartletts and the ‘Grande Jatte’: Collecting Modern Painting in the 1920s,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 12, 2 (1986), pp. 103–13.

Richard R. Brettell, “Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles: the Problem of Priority,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 12, 2 (1986), pp. 136–37 (ill.), 138–51.

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 1988), p. 65 (ill.).

Walter Feilchenfeldt, Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin: The Reception of Van Gogh in Germany from 1901–1914 (Waanders, 1988), p. 98 (ill.).

Jan Hulsker, “Bedroom Problems,” Simiolus, 18, 4 (1988), p. 257–59 (ill.), 260–61.

Ingo F. Walther and Rainer Metzger, Vincent Van Gogh Sämtliche Gemälde (Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1989), pp. 441, 442, 548, 549 (color ill.).

Gene A. Mittler, Art in Focus (Glencoe Publishing Company, 1989), p. 319, fig. 17.6.

Richard Thomson, “State of the Art Van Gogh,” Apollo 132, 341(July 1990) pp. 41 (fig. 14), 42.

Van Gogh Museum, “Vincent van Gogh Retrospective Exhibition,” Van Gogh Bulletin 5, 1 (1990), pp. 5 (color ill.), 6.

Jan Hulsker, The New Complete Van Gogh (J.M. Meulenhoff/John Benjamins, 1996), no. 1771, pp. 404–09 (color ill.), 496, n. 1771.

Mark Rosenthal, The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection, 1945 to 1995, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1996), pp. 123–29, fig. 11.

Sculpture Foundation, Solid Impressions: J. Seward Johnson, Jr. (The Sculpture Foundation, 2002), pp. 26 (color ill.), 27–29.

Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, "The Reality of Illusion, The Illusion of Reality," Beyond the Frame: Impressionism Revisited: The Sculptures of J. Seward Johnson, Jr., exh. cat. (Corcoran Gallery of Art/Bulfinch Press, 2003), p. 11 (color ill.), 12, 15–18.

Richard R. Brettell, "A View from Portland: 110 Years of Modern French Art in Portland," Paris to Portland: Impressionist and Post Impressionist Masters in Portland Collections, exh. cat. (Portland Art Museum, 2003), p. 33, fig. 3.

Kimberly A. Smith, Between Ruin and Renewal: Egon Schiele's Landscapes (Yale University Press, 2004), pp. 30 (fig. 15), 31.

Christine Guth, Emiko Yamanashi, Alicia Volk, and Redmond Entwhistle, Japan and Paris: Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and the Modern Era (Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2004).

Katharine Kuh, My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator (Arcade Publishing, 2006), pp. 52–53 (ill.), 91–94.

Jill Lloyd, Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism, exh. cat. (Hatje Cantz Verlag/Van Gogh Museum, 2006), pp. 115–16, 122 (color ill.), 123–24.

Tsukasa Kodera, Vincent Willem van Gogh (Shogakukan, 2006), p. 16 (color ill.).

Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker, eds., Vincent van Gogh, The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition, Volume 5: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence - Auvers-sur-Oise, 1889–1890 (Van Gogh Museum/Huygens Institute/Mercatorfonds, 2009), pp. 79 (fig. 2), 80–88.

Marika Spring, Helen Howard, Jo Kirby, Joseph Padfield, David Peggie, Ashok Roy, and Anne Stephenson-Wright, Studying Old Master Paintings: Technology and Practice (National Gallery/Archetype Publications, 2011), pp. 237–38 (fig. 2), 239–43.

Walter Feilchenfeldt, Vincent van Gogh: Die Gemälde 1886–1890 Händler, Sammler, Ausstellungen Die Frühen Provenienzen (Nimbus, Kunst und Bücher, 2009), p. 118 (color ill.).

Marika Spring, Helen Howard, Jo Kirby, Joseph Padfield, David Peggie, Ashok Roy, and Anne Stephenson-Wright, Studying Old Master Paintings: Technology and Practice (The National Gallery/Archetype Publications, 2011), pp. 237–38 (fig. 2), 239–43.

Walter Feilchenfeldt, Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France: Complete Paintings 1886-1890 (Nimbus, Kunst und Bücher, 2013), p. 120 (color ill.).

William Rathbone, Marcia Steele, H. Travers Newton, and Galina K. Olmsted, "The Bedroom," Van Gogh Repetitions, exh. cat. (The Phillips Collection/The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2013), pp. 82 (color ill.), 83–89, fig. 38.

Ownership History

Theo van Gogh (1857–1891), Paris, December 18, 1889; by descent to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, the Netherlands, 1891; sold to Jos Hessel, Paris, by 1901. Carl Reininghaus, Vienna, by 1909 to at least 1914. Paul Rosenberg, Paris and New York, by 1926; sold to Frederic Clay Bartlett, Chicago, December 1926; given to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1926.