During a spell of torrential rain that interrupted his harvest series (June 20–24), Van Gogh made his first real effort at portraiture in Arles. Two days into his campaign, he announced to Theo: "I have a model at last—a Zouave—a boy with a small face, a bull neck, and the eye of the tiger." The present work served as a color study for his bust-length portrait of the dashing young soldier. In the oil painting, Van Gogh heightened the "savage combination of incongruous tones," fleshed out the character's likeness, and placed him in a convincing setting. That July he sent the watercolor, with dedicatory inscription, to his "comrade Émile Bernard."
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Artist:Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)
Date:ca. June 20, 1888
Medium:Reed pen and brown ink, wax crayon and watercolor, over graphite on wove paper
Dimensions:12 3/8 x 9 5/16 in. (31.5 x 23.6 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Emanie Philips, 1962
Signature: pen and brown ink, upper right: à mon cher copain / Emile Bernard / vincent
Inscription: Inscribed in pen and brown ink at upper right corner: à mon cher copain / Emile Bernard / vincent
Sent by the artist to Emile Bernard (French), Saint-Briac (1888 until at least 1892; probably sold to Ambroise Vollard (French), Paris, between 1899 and 1904; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 8, 1907, lot 49; Emile Druet (French), Paris, by 1913 (Druet photo no. 42159); Raoul de Gunzbourg; Galerie d'art C. Moos; Paul A. Adamidé Bey; Walter E. Sachs, New York, by 1929; to his former wife Emanie Nahm Arling Philips, New York, 1939
New York. Armory of the Sixty-ninth Regiment. "International Exhibition of Modern Art (The Armory Show)," February 17–March 15, 1913.
Art Institute of Chicago. "International Exhibition of Modern Art (The Armory Show)," March 24–April 16, 1913.
Copley Hall, Copley Society of Boston. "International Exhibition of Modern Art (The Armory Show)," April 28–May 19, 1913.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh in Arles," October 18–December 30, 1984.
Rijksmuseum. "Vincent van Gogh Drawings," March 30, 1990–July 29, 1990.
Kröller-Müller Museum. "Vincent van Gogh Drawings," March 30, 1990–July 29, 1990.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," May 5–September 14, 1998.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," November 30, 1998–February 8, 1999.
Morgan Library & Museum. "Vincent van Gogh, Painted with Words: The Letters to Émile Bernard," September 28, 2007–January 6, 2008.
Royal Academy of Arts. "The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and his Letters," January 23, 2010–April 18, 2010.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Van Gogh in America," October 2, 2022–January 22, 2023.
Faille 1482; Hulsker 1487; Pickvance 1984, 62; Amsterdam - New York 2005, 77
Vincent van Gogh Lettres à Emile Bernard. Paris, 1911, fig. no. pl. LXXXI, ill.
Gustave Coquiot Vincent van Gogh. Paris, 1923, p. 315.
J. B. de La Faille L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh. vol. 3, Paris and Brussels, 1928, cat. no. 1482, fig. no. CLXV, p. 146, ill.
Vincent van Gogh, letters to Emile Bernard. Edited by Douglas Lord, London, 1938, p. 39.
"Van Gogh and John Russell: some unknown letters and drawings." in Burlington Magazine. LXXII, 1938, pp. 1, 8, ill.
Verzamelde brieven van Vincent van Gogh. Wereld Bibliotheek, Amsterdam, vol. 3, Amsterdam, 1953, fig. no. letter 501, 502, pp. 239, 243.
Jacob Bean "Ninety-third Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1962-1963: Reports of the Departments." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.s. vol. 22, no. 2, New York, October 1963, pp. 62-3, ill.
Jacob Bean, Helen Bobritzky Mules Notable Acquisitions, 1981-1982: Drawings. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, p. 44, ill.
Ronald Pickvance, Johannes van der Wolk Vincent van Gogh, Drawings Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo. Milan, 1990.
Colta Ives, Susan Alyson Stein, Sjraar van Heugten, Marije Vellekoop, Marjorie Shelley, Silvia A. Centeno Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005, 226,227,271,272,342,349,350,351-53,355n.32,356-57,358, cat. no. 77, fig. no. 183,250,263,259, pp. 29,37,222-23, ill.
Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, Nienke Bakker Vincent van Gogh, Painted with Words: The Letters to Émile Bernard Exh. cat., Morgan Library & Museum, New York, September 28, 2007-January 6, 2008. New York, 2007, pp. 198-200, ill. p. 198, fig. 37.
Dr. Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Heinz Widauer, Sjraar van Heugten, Marije Vellekoop Van Gogh: Heartfelt Lines. Exh. cat., Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, Sept. 5-Dec. 8. Cologne, 2008, cat. no. 96, ill.
Ann Dumas, Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, Nienke Bakker The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, January 23-April 18, 2010. London, 2010, cat. no. 75, ill.
The Armory Show at 100: Modernism and Revolution. Exh. cat., New-York Historical Society, October 11, 2013-February 23, 2014. Marilyn Satin Kushner, Kimberly Orcutt, London, 2013, p. 297, ill. p. 298, fig. 231.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.
The Met's collection of drawings and prints—one of the most comprehensive and distinguished of its kind in the world—began with a gift of 670 works from Cornelius Vanderbilt, a Museum trustee, in 1880.