Interpretive Resource

Activity: Vincent van Gogh's The Bedroom, 1889

Activity relating to van Gogh's depiction of his bedroom in Arles.

Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Education Department: Student and Teacher Programs. Van Gogh and Gauguin, 2001, pg. 37.

The Bedroom, 1889
Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 5/8 in. (73.6 x 92.3 cm)
Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

List and describe the contents of van Gogh’s bedroom. Compare them to the contents of your own bedroom. What does van Gogh’s bedroom reveal about its occupant? What does your bedroom convey about you? What object(s) are fundamental to a simple bedroom? How would you update van Gogh’s bedroom by modernizing it for the 21st century?

By depicting a space in the Yellow House that was personal and intimate to him, van Gogh essentially created a portrait of himself. Compare this "self-portrait" to his 1886 Self-Portrait. Based on both images, write a character sketch of Vincent van Gogh.

Variation: Based on both images, write a monologue for Vincent van Gogh describing life in the Yellow House.

Van Gogh, searching for a house to rent in Arles, found the Yellow House. Imagine that he had to rent this bedroom to a boarder in order to supplement his income. Write a "Room for Rent" advertisement for the Chicago Tribune. To attract potential renters, be sure to include the room’s most appealing features and contents.

domestic scenes, portraits


High School, Middle School

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