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“Self-Portrait as a Painter” by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh - Zelfportret als schilder (1888)

“Self-Portrait as a Painter” by Vincent van Gogh

“Self-Portrait as a Painter” by Vincent van Gogh is one of the dozens of self-portraits, Van Gogh made, and they are an essential part of his body of work as a painter. Van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits placing him among the most prolific self-portraitists of all time. Van Gogh used portrait painting as a method of introspection and a way of developing his skills as an artist.

In this self-portrait, Van Gogh presents himself as a painter, holding a palette and paintbrushes behind his easel. His palette contains the complementary colour pairs red/green, yellow/purple and blue/orange that he used for this painting.  The orange-red of his beard complements the blue of his smock. This self-portrait was the last work Van Gogh produced in Paris.  He felt exhausted, and he told his sister that he portrayed himself with:

‘wrinkles in the forehead and around the mouth, stiffly wooden, a very red beard, quite unkempt and sad’.

Vincent Willem van Gogh is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure. He created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They were characterised by bold colours and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

Exploring Vincent van Gogh

“Self-Portrait as a Painter” by Vincent van Gogh

  • Title:                       Self-Portrait as a Painter
  • Artist:                      Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                        1888
  • Medium:                 Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions            65.1 × 50 cm (25.6 × 19.7 in)
  • Museum:                Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh


“Of course one should not drink much, but often.”
– Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Photo Credit: 1) Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons