Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890)
Oil on canvas
16 x 12 1/2 in. (40.6 x 31.8 cm)
Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 (67.187.70a)
In 1886, at age thirty-two, Van Gogh arrived in Paris "not even know[ing] what the Impressionists were." By the time he left, two years later, he had cast off the muddy palette and coarse brushwork that had characterized his earlier efforts and embraced the latest developments in painting. Here he demonstrates his awareness of Neo-Impressionist technique and color theory, using the back of a Dutch peasant study he had taken with him to Paris.
Van Gogh produced more than twenty self-portraits during his Parisian sojourn. Short of funds but determined nevertheless to hone his skills as a figure painter, he became his own best sitter: "I deliberately bought a good mirror so if I lacked a model I could work from my own likeness."