Van Gogh produced more than twenty self-portraits during his Parisian sojourn (1886–88). Short of funds but determined nevertheless to hone his skills as a figure painter, he became his own best sitter: "I purposely bought a good enough mirror to work from myself, for want of a model." This picture, which shows the artist's awareness of Neo-Impressionist technique and color theory, is one of several that are painted on the reverse of an earlier peasant study.
#6015. Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (verso: The Potato Peeler)
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Title:Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (obverse: The Potato Peeler)
Artist:Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:16 x 12 1/2 in. (40.6 x 31.8 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), 1967
Recent studies of Van Gogh’s canvas supports, undertaken by the Thread Count Automation Project in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, have used thread count and weave pattern to identify canvases cut from the same bolt. Analysis of the canvas of Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (reverse: The Potato Peeler) shows that it comes from the same bolt as seven other paintings by the artist, dating from 1885 to 1887, and that the canvases of two of these paintings are weft matches.
Charlotte Hale 2019
 See D.H. Johnson, C.R. Johnson, Jr., and E. Hendriks, “Automated thread counting” and E. Hendriks et al., "Automated Thread Counting and the Studio Practice Project," Van Gogh's Studio Practice, edited by M. Vellekoop, M. Geldof, E. Hendriks, L. Jansen, and A. de Tagle, Brussels, 2013, pp. 142–81.
 The report, dated August 2011, on the automated thread counting of Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (reverse: The Potato Peeler) was prepared by Don H. Johnson, J.S. Abercrombie Professor Emeritus, Rice University, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, of The Thread Count Automation Project; Don H. Johnson, The Thread Count Automation Project, “Counting Van Gogh; Thread Count Reports List," February 2019. Department of Paintings Conservation records, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
private collection, Asnières (possibly comtesse Clara Levaillant de La Boissière and her daughter Eugénie Jeanne Levaillant de La Boissière, Asnières, later elsewhere), gift of the artist, ca. 1887–88; sold by 1927, reportedly through an intermediary, to Charpentier; [Galerie Charpentier, Paris, until 1927; sold through Bogdanoff to Bammann]; [Galerie Hans Bammann, Düsseldorf, from 1927; cat., 1927, ill.; consigned in January 1928 to Thannhauser; sold by 1929 to Thannhauser, half share with Richard Lohe, Sonnborn]; [Justin K. Thannhauser, Berlin and New York, by 1929; half share with Richard Lohe, Sonnborn]; [probably Richard Lohe, Sonnborn, by July–August 1930]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1936–d. 1967; on loan to The Met, 1936)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh: Paintings and Drawings," October 21, 1949–January 15, 1950, no. 49A (as "Portrait of the Artist," lent by Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York).
New York. Perls Galleries. "Masterpieces from the Collection of Adelaide Milton de Groot," April 14–May 3, 1958, no. 12.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Portrait of the Artist," January 18–March 7, 1972, no. 27 (as "Portrait of the Artist").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh as Critic and Self-Critic," October 30, 1973–January 6, 1974, no. 1.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Impressionist Epoch," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh in Arles," October 18–December 30, 1984, no. 1 (as "Self-Portrait").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh: The Drawings," October 12–December 31, 2005, not in catalogue.
New York. Neue Galerie. "Van Gogh and Expressionism," March 23–July 2, 2007, no. 74.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [on or about May 20, 1888] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. nos. b529 a-c V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 489; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 611], mentions four small paintings that he has given or is planning to give to the comtesse de La Boissière, possibly including this picture.
Alte Meister: Deutsche und Französische Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts. Düsseldorf, 1927, unpaginated, ill., mentions authentications by Meier-Graefe and La Faille.
J.-B. de La Faille. "Unbekannte Bilder von Vincent van Gogh." Der Cicerone 19 (February 1927), pp. 101–2, ill., dates it Paris 1887; states that it is at the Kunsthandlung Hans Bammann, Düsseldorf.
J.-B. de La Faille. L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné. Paris, 1928, vol. 1, pp. 102–3, no. 365; vol. 2, pl. C , states that it was in a private collection, Russia, before going to the Hans Bammann Gallery in Düsseldorf.
Ludwig Thormaelen. Letter to Hans Bammann. April 6, 1932 [see Ref. Dorn and Feilchenfeldt 1993], writes that there is no evidence against the attribution to Van Gogh.
M. O. "Liebermann und Justi: Wieder eine van-Gogh-Affäre." Vossische Zeitung no. 127, evening ed. (March 15, 1932), unpaginated, states that the Nationalgalerie Berlin had the opportunity to purchase six paintings by Van Gogh before World War I for the relatively modest sum of 25,000 marks but passed on the chance because of Wilhelm II's objections (see Koldehoff 2017).
Harry B. Wehle. "A Loan of Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (October 1936), p. 209, notes that this picture is currently on view in the MMA galleries, lent by an anonymous collector.
J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh. London, , pp. 296, 559, 580, 587, no. 409, ill., dates it to the Paris period.
Harry B. Wehle. "The de Groot Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (June 1948), p. 269, ill., dates it Paris 1886 or 1887.
Katharina Bromig-Kolleritz von Novisancz. "Die Selbstbildnisse Vincent van Goghs: Versuch einer kunsthistorischen Erfassung der Darstellungen." PhD diss., Universität München, 1955, p. 102 [see Ref. Erpel 1963], dates it fall 1886.
Vincent van Gogh. The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh with Reproductions of All the Drawings in the Correspondence. Greenwich, Conn., 1958, under letter no. 489 (possibly this work).
A.-M. Hammacher inVan Gogh Self-Portraits. Exh. cat., Marlborough Fine Art Ltd. London, , unpaginated, fig. e, states that the self-portraits in a straw hat probably all date from the summer of 1887; describes the visible influence of Seurat and Signac, and mentions that the presence of the straw hat may be related to Van Gogh's admiration for Monticelli.
Fritz Erpel. Die Selbstbildnisse Vincent van Goghs. Berlin, 1963, pp. 14, 16–17, 55, no. 15, ill. [English ed., "Van Gogh: The Self-Portraits," trans. Doris Edwards, Greenwich, Conn., , pp. 19, 20, 56, no. 15, ill.], believes it could have been painted later than fall 1886, when Bromig-Kolleritz [see Ref. 1955] dates it.
Paolo Lecaldano. L'opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh e i suoi nessi grafici. Vol. 1, Da Etten a Parigi. repr. [1st ed., 1966]. Milan, 1977, pp. 100, 119, no. 463, ill., dates it late 1887.
J.-B. de La Faille. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 170–71, 625, no. F365 verso, ill., dates it Paris 1887; substitutes the Charpentier Art Gallery, Paris, for the unknown Russian collector formerly included in the early provenance of the picture [see Ref. La Faille 1928], since this individual acted for the Charpentier Gallery.
John Walsh Jr. Portrait of the Artist. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1972, p. 16, no. 27, dates it about 1886–88.
Matthias Arnold. "Duktus und Bildform bei Vincent van Gogh." PhD diss., Ruprecht-Karl University, Heidelberg, 1973, p. 188 n. 227.
Anthony M. Clark inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 86, ill., dates it 1886.
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. Vincent van Gogh: His Paris Period, 1886–1888. PhD diss., Universiteit Utrecht. Utrecht, 1976, pp. 104, 125 n. 51, p. 226.
Jan Hulsker. The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1977]. New York, 1980, pp. 145, 300, 302, 304–5, no. 1354, ill., compares it with the artist's "Self-Portrait with Gray Felt Hat" (F344; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), calling it "a preliminary study for . . . or a less masterly repetition of" the Amsterdam painting.
Ronald Pickvance. Van Gogh in Arles. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 33–35, no. 1, ill. in color (overall and detail).
Pascal Bonafoux. Van Gogh par Vincent. Paris, 1986, p. 189, colorpl. 23 [English ed., "Van Gogh Self Portraits," trans. Daniel Simon, Secaucus, N.J., 1989], dates it 1887.
Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, pp. 10, 60–61, colorpl. 40.
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov inVan Gogh à Paris. Exh. cat., Paris. Paris, 1988, p. 116.
Glenn Collins. "Is It or Isn't It? A Van Gogh Languishes in Limbo." New York Times (July 8, 1990), pp. H1, H31, ill. pp. H1 and H31, outlines Feilchenfeldt's doubts about the authenticity of the self-portrait, based on the provenance and style of the picture, and also discusses the Museum's response to this matter.
Anne Reich. "Jedermann weiss, dass es da noch Zeitbomben gibt." Züri Woche (July 26, 1990), p. 37, ill., publishes an interview with Feilchenfeldt, in which he reiterates his doubts about the authenticity of the picture.
Roland Dorn and Walter Feilchenfeldt in "Genuine or Fake?—On the History and Problems of Van Gogh Connoisseurship." The Mythology of Vincent van Gogh. Ed. Kodera Tsukasa. English ed. Tokyo, 1993, p. 296, fig. 188, illustrate it as "attributed to Van Gogh"; discuss it with three other self-portraits (F528, F268, F178v), deciding that none of them "really fits into Van Gogh's production," and adding that they lack the "inner self-control" evident in all of Van Gogh's self-portraits; believe that the only authentic self-portraits painted on the reverse of earlier works are a series of five (F179v, F61v, F77v, F109v, F269v) all dating from the same period, of a uniform format and style, and made as experiments in the position of the head.
Matthias Arnold. Vincent van Gogh: Werk und Wirkung. Munich, 1995, pp. 770–71, 836 n. 424, includes it in a list of works whose authenticity, in his opinion, has to be examined because of its appearance in 1927, at the time of the Wacker forgery scandal.
Bernard Denvir. Vincent: A Complete Portrait. London, 1995, pp. 64–65, ill. (color).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 494, ill.
Jan Hulsker. The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. rev. ed. Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 144, 262, 300, 302, 304, no. 1354, ill. p. 305.
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. "'I Shall Grow in the Tempest': Van Gogh 100 Years Later." Van Gogh 100. Ed. Joseph D. Masheck. Westport, Conn., 1996, p. 16 n. 4, suggests it as one possibility for the self-portrait sold by Theo in October 1888 to the London dealers Sully and Lori.
Klaus Herding inAusstieg aus dem Bild. Hamburg, 1996, p. 150 n. 20, dates it to winter 1887–88 in Paris; compares the circular brushstrokes around the head to those in "Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat" (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum), painted in the same period; attributes the brushstrokes to the influence of Millet and Seurat.
Martin Bailey. "Cent Van Gogh remis en question." Journal des arts no. 39 (May 30, 1997), pp. 13–14, 25, ill. in color (overall and detail), discusses Feilchenfeldt's doubts concerning the authenticity of both sides of the painting, as well as Stein's defense of the work on stylistic grounds and her argument that the double-sided format is evidence for its authenticity.
Martin Bailey. "At Least Forty-five Van Goghs May Well be Fakes." Art Newspaper 8 (July–August 1997), pp. 21, 23, ill.
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. Van Gogh in Provence and Auvers. [New York], 1999, ill. p. 9 (color).
Walter Feilchenfeldt. By Appointment Only: Cézanne, Van Gogh and Some Secrets of Art Dealing. English ed. London, 2006, pp. 116–17, ill. (color), as "Self-Portrait with Straw Hat"; questions its authenticity on grounds of provenance and style, and argues that it is derived from "Self-Portrait with Grey Straw Hat" (F344) in the Van Gogh Museum; states that Thannhauser bought the painting after 1932 and sold it in 1936 to De Groot.
Laurence Madeline. Van Gogh, Picasso. Paris, 2006, pp. 144, 176 n. 18, dates it 1888; suggests it inspired some of Picasso's male figures.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 168, 255, no. 156, ill. (color and black and white).
Jill Lloyd inVan Gogh and Expressionism. Ed. Jill Lloyd and Michael Peppiatt. Exh. cat., Neue Galerie. Ostfildern, 2007, p. 17, colorpl. 74, compares it to Jawlensky's "Self-Portrait with Top Hat" (about 1904; private collection).
Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 4, pp. 86–87 n. 3, under letter no. 611, identify it as possibly one of the four small paintings that Van Gogh mentions giving to the Countess de la Boissière.
Henk Tromp. A Real Van Gogh: How the Art World Struggles with Truth. Amsterdam, 2010, fig. 54, illustrates uncredited photograph of Vincent Willem van Gogh, the artist's nephew, posing with the painting in New York in 1949.
Ella Hendriks et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Vol. 2, Antwerp & Paris, 1885–1888: Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2011, pp. 264 nn. 2, 5, pp. 356, 410, 435–37, 444, 457, 575, fig. 116f (color), attribute the large number of self-portraits completed in this period in Paris to the artist's lack of models for portraits; state that he seems to have used the same pinkish brown underlayer of paint for it as for four other double-sided works that started with his Nuenen period; note that it was probably one of the works he gave to the comtesse de la Boissière; attribute the reuse of the backs of earlier works in this period to his dire financial situation.
Louis van Tilborgh in Ella Hendriks et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Vol. 2, Antwerp & Paris, 1885–1888: Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2011, p. 24 n. 20, tentatively includes this two-sided work in the group of five small paintings given to the comtesse de la Boissière.
Ella Hendriks and Muriel Geldof in Ella Hendriks et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Vol. 2, Antwerp & Paris, 1885–1888: Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2011, p. 117 n. 111, compare it to works whose examination revealed matching pinkish-brown ground layers on the reverse of Nuenen canvases, all used in preparation for a series of self-portrait studies and one landscape.
Ella Hendriks et al. "Van Gogh's Recycled Works." Van Gogh's Studio Practice. Ed. Marije Vellekoop et al. Brussels, 2013, pp. 315, 320, 329 table 2.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France. Complete Paintings 1886–1890. London, 2013, p. 278 [1st German ed., 2009], includes it among the self-portraits whose authenticity he doubts.
Stefan Koldehoff. Ich und van Gogh: Bilder, Sammler und ihre abenteuerlichen Geschichten. Berlin, 2015, pp. 144–45, ill. pp. 142 (photograph of de Groot with it), 143 (color), discusses de Groot's purchase and loan of the painting to the MMA, as well as its subsequent transition into the Museum's collection.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 447, no. 397, ill. pp. 401, 447 (color).
Monique Hageman and Nora Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, p. 312.
Chris Stolwijk inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, p. 50, fig. 33 (color).
Stefan Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, pp. 67–79, 81 nn. 30, 35, pp. 153, 206, 208, 214, no. 59, ill. p. 215 (color), figs. 51 (reproduction of La Faille 1927), 53 (annotated letter from Jean Charpentier to Galerie Thannhauser), discusses the Galerie Hans Bammann, Thannhauser gallery, and Richard Lohe ownership; associates this picture with Kaiser Wilhelm II's objections that caused the Nationalgalerie Berlin to pass on the opportunity to acquire six Van Gogh paintings at modest prices (see O. 1932); identifies it as one of five paintings that had been in the collection of Paris dealer Jean Charpentier; sheds doubt on the La Boissière family's early ownership but notes Emile Bernard's authentication of the Charpentier pictures as having been in Van Gogh's studio in Paris; states that de Groot may have acquired the painting in Berlin sometime prior to 1936.
Nora Koldehoff inThe Thannhauser Gallery: Marketing Van Gogh. Ed. Stefan Koldehoff and Chris Stolwijk. Brussels, 2017, pp. 304–5.
Martin Gammon. Deaccessioning and Its Discontents: A Critical History. Cambridge, Mass., 2018, p. 215.
Megan Fontanella and Lena Stringari inThannhauser Collection: French Modernism at the Guggenheim. Ed. Megan Fontanella. New York, 2018, pp. 243, 317 n. 11; p. 318 n. 18, notes that the inability to find early records documenting the work may have been precisely because the artist gifted or otherwise disposed of it in his lifetime.
Louis van Tilborgh, Teio Meedendorp, and Kathrin Pilz. "Van Gogh as Mentally Ill: His Contested Oslo Self-Portrait." Burlington Magazine 162 (February 2020), pp. 92–93, n. 46.
Karen Serres inVan Gogh Self-Portraits. Ed. Karen Serres. Exh. cat., Courtauld Gallery. London, 2022, pp. 96, 99, 102, 138 n. 13, p. 144, ill. (color).
Louis van Tilborgh inVan Gogh Self-Portraits. Ed. Karen Serres. Exh. cat., Courtauld Gallery. London, 2022, p. 43.
Van Gogh painted The Potato Peeler at Nuenen, The Netherlands, in February–March 1885. Later, in Paris, in summer 1887, he turned the canvas over and painted Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat on the other side.
Assistant Curator Alison Hokanson introduces a bevy of temporary loans on view in August in the nineteenth-century European Paintings galleries, as well as the first installation of all sixteen of the European Paintings department's Van Gogh paintings in several years.
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