Van Gogh painted several still lifes of shoes or boots during his Paris period. This picture, painted later, in Arles, evinces a unique return to the earlier motif. However, here Van Gogh has placed the shoes within a specific spatial context: namely, the red-tile floor of the Yellow House. Not only may we identify the setting, but perhaps the owner of the shoes as well. It has been suggested that this "still life of old peasants' shoes" may have been those of Patience Escalier, whose portrait Van Gogh executed around the same time, late summer 1888.
the artist's brother Theo van Gogh (d. 1891); his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam, in trust for their son, Vincent Willem van Gogh (until 1910; sold on December 29 for 3,600 guilders through J. H. de Bois, acting for C. M. van Gogh, to Kröller-Müller); Helene Kröller-Müller (Mrs. A. G. Kröller), The Hague, later Wassenaar (from 1910); her son, Anton George (Toon) Kröller, Jr., Harskamp (by May 24, 1927–d. 1938); his widow, Geertruida (Truusje) Kröller-Jesse, The Hague (1938–at least May 20, 1946); [D. Katz, Dieren, by September 8, 1947]; [E. J. van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam]; Siegfried Kramarsky, New York (by 1951–d. 1961); Kramarsky family, New York (1961–92; sold to MMA)
Amsterdam. Stedelijk Museum. "Tentoonstelling van Schilderijen en Teekeningen door Vincent van Gogh," July–August 1905, no. 136 [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Cent tableaux de Vincent van Gogh," January 6–February 1, 1908, no. 45 [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Munich. Moderne Kunsthandlung. "Vincent van Gogh," April 1908, no. 35 [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Dresden. Emil Richter. "Vincent van Gogh/Paul Cézanne," April–May 1908, no. 35 [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Frankfurt. Kunstverein. "Vincent van Gogh," June 14–28, 1908, no. 40 [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Munich. Brakl. "Vincent van Gogh," October 1–December ?, 1909, no. 23 [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Frankfurt. Kunstverein. "Vincent van Gogh," January 1910, no catalogue [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Dresden. Kunst Salon Ernst Arnold. "Vincent van Gogh," February 1910, no catalogue [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Chemnitz. Kunstsalon Gerstenberger. "Vincent van Gogh," April 1910, no catalogue [see Feilchenfeldt 1988].
Cologne. Städtische Ausstellungshalle. "Internationale Kunstausstellung des Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler," May 25–September 30, 1912, no. 17 (as "Stilleben, Schuhe," lent by Frau A. G. Kröller).
Kunsthalle Basel. "Vincent van Gogh, 1853–1890: 143 Werke aus der Sammlung Kröller im Haag," June 16–August 16, 1927, no. 130.
Kunsthalle Bern. "Vincent van Gogh, 1853–1890: 143 Werke aus der Sammlung Kröller im Haag," September–October 1927, no. 130.
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. "Ausgewählte Kunstwerke aus der Sammlung der Frau H. Kröller-Müller den Haag," August–September 1928, no. 175.
Berlin. Nationalgalerie. "Vincent van Gogh: 143 Werke aus dem Besitz von Frau Kröller-Müller im Haag," January 1929, no. 103.
Hamburg. Kunstverein. "Vincent van Gogh: Sammlung Kröller-Müller im Haag," March 14–May 21, 1929, no. 84.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Vincent van Gogh," November 4, 1935–January 5, 1936, no. 29 (lent by The Kröller-Müller Foundation, Wassenaar).
Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Museum of Art. "Vincent van Gogh," January 11–February 10, 1936, no. 29.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Vincent van Gogh," February 17–March 16, 1936, no. 29.
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Vincent van Gogh," March 23–April 20, 1936, no. 29.
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Vincent van Gogh," April 27–May 25, 1936, no. 29.
Kansas City, Mo. William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art. "Vincent van Gogh," June 12–July 10, 1936, no. 29.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Vincent van Gogh," July 20–August 17, 1936, no. 29.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Vincent van Gogh," August 26–September 23, 1936, no. 29.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Vincent van Gogh," October 3–31, 1936, no. 29.
Art Gallery of Toronto. "Vincent van Gogh," November 10–December 9, 1936, no. 29.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Vincent van Gogh," January 20–February 2, 1937, no. 29.
New York. Wildenstein. "Van Gogh," March 24–April 30, 1955, no. 32 (as "An Old Pair of Shoes," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Siegfried Kramarsky).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 1–September 1, 1958, no. 66 (as "Old Pair of Shoes," lent by Siegfried Kramarsky).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 6–September 4, 1960, no. 50 (as "Old Pair of Shoes," lent by Siegfried Kramarsky).
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Van Gogh and Expressionism," July 1–September 13, 1964, unnum. brochure (as "An Old Pair of Shoes," lent by a private collection, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh in Arles," October 18–December 30, 1984, no. 94 (as "A Pair of Shoes," lent by a private collection, U.S.A.).
Tokyo. National Museum of Western Art. "Vincent van Gogh," October 12–December 8, 1985, no. 76 (as "A Pair of Old Shoes," lent by a private collection, U.S.A.).
Nagoya City Museum. "Vincent van Gogh," December 21, 1985–February 2, 1986, no. 76.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [August 29 or 30, 1888] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. no. b571 V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 529; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 671], writes that he has "a bouquet on the go [...] and also a still life of a pair of old shoes".
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to his brother Theo. [September 4, 1888] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. nos. b574 a-b V/1962 and b584 b V/1962; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. 532; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 674], mentions that he has "about fifteen new studies," including this painting.
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Émile Bernard. [October 3, 1888] [Thaw Collection, Morgan Library & Museum, New York; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 1958, letter no. B18; Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 696], mentions "a still life of old peasants' shoes" among a group of pictures on hand that he could exchange with other artists [but this work was not ultimately included in the exchange].
Paul Gauguin. "Natures mortes." Essais d'art libre (January 4, 1894) [reprinted in "Essais d'art libre: Revue Mensuelle. Vol. 4: Août 1893–Janvier 1894," Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 1971, p. 274; and reprinted in Malte Lohmann, ed., "Erinnerungen an Vincent van Gogh: Texte von Augenzeugen," Wädenswil, 2009, p. 173], states that Van Gogh had placed this picture in Gauguin's room in the Yellow House in Arles; identifies the shoes as belonging to Van Gogh.
Paul Gauguin. Diverses choses. 1896–97, p. 261 [Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Arts Graphiques, RF 7259; excerpt published in "Paul Gauguin," by Jean de Rotonchamp, Paris, 1925 (first ed., Paris, 1906), p. 53], mentions a still life of an old pair of shoes in the studio at the yellow house in Arles, seeming to imply that this painting was made after his arrival in Arles in October 1888.
W. Vogelsang. "Tentoonstelling Vincent van Gogh." Onze Kunst 4, 2nd half year (1905), ill. p. 61.
H. P. Bremmer. "Vincent van Gogh." Moderne Kunstwerken 7, no. 11 (1909), unpaginated, no. 83, pl. 83.
Vincent van Gogh: Reproducties naar zijn werken in de verzameling van Mevrouw H. Kröller-Müller. The Hague, 1919, no. 70, ill. [see Ref. La Faille 1928].
H. P. Bremmer. Vincent van Gogh: Reproducties naar zijn werken in de verzameling van mevrouw H. Kröller-Müller. The Hague, 1919, pl. 70, as "Werkmansschoenen".
Julius Meier-Graefe. Vincent. Munich, 1921, vol. 2, pl. 31 [English ed., "Vincent van Gogh," London, 1922, vol. 1, pl. 31; later English ed., New York, 1933, pl. 19], as "Arbeiterschuhe," in the collection of Frau A. G. Kröller, The Hague.
Florent Fels. Vincent van Gogh. Paris, 1928, p. 217, ill. p. 117.
J.-B. de La Faille. L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue Raisonné. Paris, 1928, vol. 1, p. 131, no. 461; vol. 2, pl. 126, dates it August 1888 and locates it in the collection of A. G. Kröller, Harskamp.
Vincent van Gogh. The Hague, , p. 69, no. 218.
James W. Lane. "Current Exhibitions." Parnassus 7 (December 1935), p. 27.
W. Scherjon and Jos. De Gruyter. Vincent van Gogh's Great Period: Arles, St. Rémy and Auvers sur Oise (complete catalogue). Amsterdam, 1937, p. 107, Arles no. 81, ill., as "An Old Pair of Shoes".
Douglas Lord, ed. Vincent van Gogh: Letters to Émile Bernard. London, 1938, p. 86 n. 11, suggests that the "still life of old peasant shoes" referred to in letter B18 [Ref. Gogh 1888] is either this picture or "Clogs" (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; F 607).
J.-B. de La Faille. Vincent van Gogh. London, , pp. 347, 565, 581, 587, 591, no. 488, ill., as in the collection of the Kröller-Müller Foundation, Hoenderlo.
W. Auping Jr. Vincent van Gogh: Rijkmuseum Kröller-Müller. Wageningen, The Netherlands, , p. 127.
W[ilhelm]. Uhde and Ludwig Goldscheider. Vincent van Gogh. New York, 1941, pl. 24 [German ed., Vienna, 1936], as in the collection of the Kröller-Müller Foundation, Hoenderlo, Holland.
A[braham]. M. Hammacher inCatalogue of 270 Paintings and Drawings of Vincent van Gogh Belonging to the Collection of the State Museum Kröller-Müller. English ed. [Otterlo], 1952, p. 9 [Dutch ed., 1949, p. 10], explains that this work is not included in the current collection catalogue, because it does not appear in the inventory of the National Collection and is no longer on loan to the museum; points out that Ref. Auping 1939 did not make a distinction between works on loan and those in the museum's inventory [these comments are reprinted in subsequent editions of the cat.].
Vincent van Gogh. The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh with Reproductions of All the Drawings in the Correspondence. Greenwich, Conn., 1958, under letter nos. 529, 532, B18.
Meyer Schapiro. "The Still Life as a Personal Object - A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh." The Reach of Mind: Essays in Memory of Kurt Goldstein. Ed. Marianne L. Simmel. New York, 1968, p. 205 [revised in Ref. Schapiro 1994].
J.-B. de La Faille. The Works of Vincent van Gogh: His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 208, 629, no. 461, ill., as "Still Life: A Pair of Shoes," in the collection of the S. Kramarsky Trust Fund, U.S.A.
Mark Roskill. Van Gogh, Gauguin, and the Impressionist Circle. Greenwich, Conn., 1970, pp. 205, 302, pl. 167, as "Old Shoes," in the collection of Mrs. S. Kramarsky, New York.
Paolo Lecaldano. L'opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh e i suoi nessi grafici. Vol. 2, Da Arles a Auvers. repr. [1st ed., 1966]. Milan, 1971–77, pp. 211–12, no. 561, ill., as "Natura morta (paio di scarpe)," in the collection of the Kramarsky Trust Fund, New York.
Mark W. Roskill. "Van Gogh's Exchanges of Work with Émile Bernard in 1888." Oud-Holland 86, nos. 2–3 (1971), pp. 157, 161, 163, 176 n. 188, fig. 18, as in the collection of Mrs. S. Binkhorst Kramarsky, New York; analyzes Van Gogh's letter to Bernard of late September 1888 [see Ref.] listing works that he has available to exchange with the group of artists working in Brittany; argues that though the MMA work must be the one described as "a still life of old peasant shoes [souliers]," Van Gogh must in fact have decided to keep it.
Hope Benedict Werness. "Essays on van Gogh's Symbolism." PhD diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1972, pp. xx, 216–17, fig. VI–40, calls it the last pair of shoes Van Gogh painted and notes that the floor's steep incline and the placement of the shoes near the bottom edge of the canvas yield a sense of instability.
Jacques Derrida. "Restitutions: de la vérité en pointure." Macula 3/4 (1978), ill. p. 30.
Jan Hulsker. The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. [1st ed., Amsterdam, 1977]. New York, 1980, pp. 244, 356, 358–59, no. 1569, ill., as "A Pair of Old Shoes," in a private collection, New York; points out that the tile floor depicted in this work must be that of the artist's studio in the yellow house in Arles, and that it is also seen in "The Seated Zouave" (private collection, Argentina; F424).
John A Walker. "Art History Versus Philosophy: The Enigma of the 'Old Shoes'." Block no. 2 (Spring 1980), p. 14.
Matthias Arnold. "Van Goghs Stilleben mit Schuhen." Weltkunst 50 (May 1, 1980), pp. 1192–93, fig. 12, notes that the presence of a signature suggests that the artist intended this work for an exchange of pictures; suggests a date in the first months of 1889 in Arles or later in St.-Rémy.
Ronald Pickvance. Van Gogh in Arles. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 36, 163, 166, no. 94, ill. (color), calls it unsigned; suggests that the shoes may have belonged to Patience Escalier, whose portrait Van Gogh painted at about the same time he made this picture (private collection; F444); remarks that the same floor is seen not only in "The Seated Zouave" [see Ref. Hulsker 1977] but in "Van Gogh's Chair" (National Gallery, London; F498).
Haruo Arikawa inVincent van Gogh. Exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art. Tokyo, 1985, pp. 216–18, no. 76, ill. (color).
A[braham]. M. Hammacher. Vincent van Gogh: Genius and Disaster. 2nd ed. [1st ed., New York, 1968]. New York, 1985, p. 194, ill. p. 44.
Susan Alyson Stein, ed. Van Gogh: A Retrospective. New York, 1986, p. 121, ill. p. 122, as "A Pair of Shoes," in a private collection, U.S.A.; reprints Ref. Gauguin 1894.
Jacques Derrida. The Truth in Painting. [French ed., 1978]. Chicago, 1987, pp. 313, 362–63, ill. p. 375.
Evert van Uitert inThe Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh. Ed. E. van Uitert and M. Hoyle. Amsterdam, 1987, p. 156.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin: The Reception of Van Gogh in Germany from 1901 to 1914. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1988, pp. 36, 96, 146–47, 149, as "Still Life: A Pair of Shoes".
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov inVan Gogh à Paris. Exh. cat., Paris. Paris, 1988, p. 64.
Shuji Takashina. "Vincent van Gogh and French Literature." Vincent van Gogh: International Symposium. Ed. Shuji Takashina et al. Tokyo, 1988, p. 405.
Roland Dorn inVincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, pp. 112, 121, concurs with Roskill [Ref. 1971] that van Gogh [Ref. 1888] referred to this picture as "a still life of old peasant shoes," but must have decided to keep it; likens the brushwork to that of "A Crab Upside Down" (1888; Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam; F605).
Roland Dorn. Décoration: Vincent van Goghs Werkreihe für das Gelbe Haus in Arles. PhD diss., Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität zu Mainz. Hildesheim, 1990, pp. 248–49 n. 52, pp. 255–56 n. 110.
Jan Hulsker. Vincent van Gogh: A Guide to His Work and Letters. Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 32, 40, 52, 60, 75, dates van Gogh's letter to Bernard [Ref. 1888] to October 6, 1888.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1992–1993." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 51 (Fall 1993), pp. , 50, ill. (color), accepts the identification of the shoes as van Gogh's, and remarks that it is not obvious that they are in fact a pair.
Carol Vogel. "The Art Market: Non-Traveling Shoes." New York Times (March 5, 1993), p. C18, ill. (detail).
J[an]. F[rederik]. Heijbroek and E[ster]. L. Wouthuysen. Kunst, Kennis en Commercie: De Kunsthandelaar J. H. de Bois (1878–1946). Amsterdam, 1993, p. 195, ill., state that Van Gogh-Bonger sold it through J. H. de Bois, acting for the firm C. M. van Gogh, to Kröller-Müller for 3,600 guilders on December 29, 1910 [see also Ref. Stolwijk and Veenenbos 2002].
Bente Kiilerich. "Heidegger, Schapiro, Derrida og van Goghs udtrådte støvler." Kunst og Kultur 77, no. 4 (1994), pp. 231–33 n. 1, fig. 7, erroneously as owned by the Kramarsky Trust Fund, New York.
Meyer Schapiro. "The Still Life as a Personal Object - A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh." Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist, and Society. New York, 1994, p. 142 nn. 3, 7 [revision of Ref. Schapiro 1968].
Matthias Arnold. Vincent van Gogh: Werk und Wirkung. Munich, 1995, pp. 245–47.
Jan Hulsker. The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches. rev. ed. Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 242, 354, 495, no. 1569, ill. p. 359, calls it "A Pair of Old Shoes".
Georg Klusmann. Vincent van Gogh: Still Life with Peonies. Mainburg, Germany, 1996, pp. 11, 44, 73–74, 77, fig. 7 (color).
Nobuyuki Senzoku inVincent van Gogh and His Time: Still Lifes from the Van Gogh Museum and the H.W. Mesdag Museum. Exh. cat., Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 1996, pp. 28-29, 129, fig. 24.
Cynthia Saltzman. Portrait of Dr. Gachet: The Story of a Van Gogh Masterpiece. New York, 1998, pp. 225, 329, incorrectly states that Kramarsky acquired it in 1953.
Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Art News 97 (May 1998), p. 148.
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. Van Gogh in Provence and Auvers. [New York], 1999, ill. p. 85 (color).
Wessel Krul. Onzuivere Kunst: Over moderne cultuur, waarden en subjectiviteit. Amsterdam, 1999, p. 30 n. 57.
Chris Stolwijk and Han Veenenbos. The Account Book of Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Amsterdam, 2002, pp. 53, 130, 151, 174, ill., note that this is one of two paintings that J. H. de Bois, acting for the firm C. M. van Gogh, sold for Van Gogh-Bonger for which she recorded payment of 4,800 guilders on May 19, 1911; add that the two works went to different buyers, this one being purchased by Kröller-Müller [see also Ref. Heijbroek and Wouthuysen 1993].
Jos ten Berge inThe Paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Ed. Toos van Kooten and Mieke Rijnders. Otterlo, 2003, pp. 387–88 n. 3, p. 389, ill. (color), provides detailed early provenance.
Hildelies Balk inThe Paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Ed. Toos van Kooten and Mieke Rijnders. Otterlo, 2003, p. 437.
Toos van Kooten and Mieke Rijnders, ed. The Paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the Collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Otterlo, 2003, p. 443.
Cliff Edwards. The Shoes of Van Gogh: A Spiritual and Artistic Journey to the Ordinary. New York, 2004, p. 51.
Susan Alyson Stein inVincent van Gogh: The Drawings. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. New York, 2005, pp. 278–79, fig. 213.
Ella Hendriks and Louis van Tilborgh. New Views on Van Gogh's Development in Antwerp and Paris: An Integrated Art Historical and Technical Study of His Paintings in the Van Gogh Museum. PhD diss., Universiteit van Amsterdam. [Amsterdam], , p. 65 n. 1, date it to Van Gogh's Arles period.
Cornelia Homburg inVan Gogh in Budapest. Ed. Judit Geskó. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts. Budapest, 2006, p. 340.
Lupina Lara Elizondo in Lupina Lara Elizondo. Van Gogh, Atl, O'Higgins: Expresión humana, esencia del paisaje. Mexico City, 2006, pp. 92, 255.
Laura Ann Coyle. "The Still-Life Paintings of Vincent van Gogh and Their Context." PhD diss., Princeton University, September 2007, pp. 337–38 n. 262, fig. 5.87, the figure is identified as 5.87 in the text, but misnumbered as 5.83 in the illustration section.
Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. Vincent van Gogh: Painted with Words, The Letters to Émile Bernard. Exh. cat., Morgan Library & Museum. New York, 2007, pp. 293, 295, 298 n. 13, p. 309 n. 1, fig. 80 (color).
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. ix, 190–97, no. 37, ill. (color), dates it late August 1888; notes that the signature has faded, due to the use of red lake pigments; suggests that this picture was shipped to Pont-Aven in October 1888, but brought back to Arles by Gauguin later that month; states that van Gogh painted this subject ten times between 1881 and 1889.
Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 4, pp. 250–51, fig. 2 (color), under letter no. 671, p. 257, fig. 12 (color), under letter no. 674, pp. 306–7, fig. 12 (color), under letter no. 696.
Geoffrey Batchen. Van Goghs "Schuhe": Ein Streitgespräch. Leipzig, 2009, pp. 9, 12, fig. 11 (color).
Elena Phipps. "Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 67 (Winter 2010), pp. 35, 37, 48, fig. 61 (color).
Katherine Chandler inVincent Everywhere: Van Gogh's (Inter)National Identities. Ed. Rachel Esner and Margriet Schavemaker. Amsterdam, 2010, pp. 63, 70, discusses it at length in relation to the artist's other paintings of shoes as well as in relation to previous commentary on the shoe paintings.
Ella Hendriks et al. Vincent van Gogh: Paintings. Vol. 2, Antwerp & Paris, 1885–1888: Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2011, p. 257 n. 2, pp. 261–62, include a new possible etching source for Van Gogh's series of shoe paintings.
Anabelle Kienle inVan Gogh: Up Close. Ed. Cornelia Homburg. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. New Haven, 2012, pp. 55, 199, 270, fig. 40 (color).
Richard Shiff inVan Gogh: Up Close. Ed. Cornelia Homburg. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. New Haven, 2012, p. 137.
Walter Feilchenfeldt. Vincent van Gogh: The Years in France. Complete Paintings 1886–1890. London, 2013, pp. 125, 291, 299, 312, 318,342, 346, ill. (color) [1st German ed., 2009], as "A Pair of Shoes".
Griselda Pollock inVan Gogh. London, 2015, p. 39, colorpl. 24.
In August 1888, Van Gogh painted this still life, the only one of shoes from the Arles period. Later, he painted a pair of clogs at Saint Rémy (F607; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
He had painted five other still lifes of shoes during his time in Paris, including four depictions of single pairs of shoes (F255 and F331, both Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; F332a, E. Schumacher, Brussels; and F333, Baltimore Museum of Art) and one painting of three pairs of shoes (F332; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.).
The painting is signed faintly at the lower left. Early reproductions (see Exh. Düsseldorf 1928, Exh. New York et al. 1935–37, Meier-Graefe 1921, 1922, and 1933, La Faille 1928, Uhde and Goldscheider 1941, etc.) reveal that the signature was once much more distinct. By 1955 (see Exh. New York 1955) the signature seems to present the same appearance it does today. Charlotte Hale of Paintings Conservation has examined the signature, and believes it to have been painted in red lake pigment, which can fade over time, but which in this case appears to have been abraded, either accidentally or deliberately.
There exists a Eugène Druet photograph of this picture (pl. 61, nos. 24/30–43813 and 30/40–20104, ca. 1900–1910, collection Le fonds Druet-Vizzavona, Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Fort de Saint-Cyr, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France), probably taken during Exh. Paris 1908.
Petra Ten-Doesschate Chu discusses Van Gogh's paintings of shoes in "Emblems for a Modern Age: Vincent van Gogh's Still Lifes and the Nineteenth-Century Vignette Tradition," in The Object as Subject: Studies in the Interpretation of Still Life, ed. Anne W. Lowenthal, Princeton, 1996, pp. 88–89, 91, 93–94. She proposes a multi-layered meaning for Van Gogh's still lifes, related to the vignette tradition, as painted culs-de-lampe to the continuing narrative of letters the artist sent to his brother Theo. She further suggests that the still lifes of old shoes have both specific autobiographical and generic meaning, and can be seen as relating directly to certain walks taken by the artist, or as the summation of his physical and spiritual wandering, or even more generically as representing "the entire concept of a walk, or way, of life," an important topos in nineteenth-century literature and common parlance.