Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890)
Oil on canvas
36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm)
Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951 (51.112.3)
Marie Ginoux was the proprietress of the Café de la Gare, where Van Gogh lived in Arles between May and September 1888, before he moved into the nearby Yellow House. In early November, wearing the regional costume of the legendary dark-haired beauties of Arles, she posed for both Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh was thrilled to "have an Arlésienne at last" and quickly "slashed on in an hour" his first, more summarily executed version of this portrait (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), using the thick jute canvas that Gauguin had brought with him to Arles. Later, Van Gogh enhanced that image by adorning the tabletop with two accessories befitting an Arlésienne: a parasol and gloves. Those finishing touches were probably added in December 1888 or January 1889, when he revisited the composition to use it as the prototype for the Museum's painting. Relying on more saturated and richly applied colors to add substance to the character of his sitter, and showing her seated at a table with books, Van Gogh made this more compelling portrait of his friend—which he gave to her.