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“Portrait of Vincent van Gogh” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

"Portrait of Vincent van Gogh" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“Portrait of Vincent van Gogh” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“Portrait of Vincent van Gogh” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is an 1887 chalk pastel on cardboard depicting the then-unknown Dutch artist who had recently arrived in Paris. Van Gogh is shown leaning forwards at a table in a bar, with a glass of absinthe, as if in conversation. 

This colorful Impressionist work of blues, oranges, and yellows, shows Van Gogh during the time he was living with his brother, Theo.

Toulouse-Lautrec met Vincent van Gogh when they were both taking lessons at the Atelier or open studio of Fernand Cormon in Paris from 1886 to 1887.

Van Gogh studied at Fernand Cormon’s atelier studio in 1886, where he was introduced to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.  They frequently met at Julien “Père” Tanguy’s paint shop, which is where Paul Cézanne’s paintings were displayed.

Theo kept a stock of Impressionist paintings in his gallery on boulevard Montmartre, but Van Gogh was slow to acknowledge the new developments in art. He did, however, develop friendships with fellow artists, and his appreciation increased with his exposure to the Impressionist circle.

During one memorable dinner, the painter Henry de Groux insulted Van Gogh’s work. Toulouse-Lautrec demanded satisfaction. He challenged to a duel the artist Henri de Groux who criticized van Gogh works.

Signac also declared he would continue to fight for Van Gogh’s honor if Lautrec surrendered. De Groux apologized for the slight and left.

Other portraits of Van Gogh by his contemporaries include portraits of Vincent van Gogh by John Russell, Lucien Pissarro, and Paul Gauguin.

Van Gogh in Paris

In 1886 van Gogh left the Netherlands to live and study in Paris with his brother Theo in the Montmartre district of Paris.

He arrived in Paris as a shy, solemn man but emerged artistically with a brighter palette and as a more thoughtful and provoking artist.

His circle of friends included Camille Pissarro, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, and others.

While van Gogh had been influenced by the great Dutch masters, coming to Paris meant that he was also influenced by the Impressionists, Symbolists, Pointillists, and Japanese prints.

Fernand Cormon

Fernand Cormon (1845 – 1924) was a French painter who became one of the leading historical painters in France.

Being well-accepted at the annual Salon, he also ran an art school, the Atelier Cormon, in the 1880s, where he guided his students on how to be accepted by the Salon’s jury.

Among his students were Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh. 

Fernand Cormon is barely remembered today save as the teacher of pupils now more famous than himself.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (1864 – 1901) was a French painter and illustrator and amongst the best-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period.

His immersion in the colorful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century allowed him to produce a collection of enticing and provocative images of the modern and decadent scenes of those times.

Toulouse-Lautrec was born to a wealthy and aristocratic family; unfortunately, he suffered from congenital health conditions. 

Modern physicians attribute his condition to an unknown genetic disorder, sometimes known as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome.

His legs ceased to grow so that as an adult, he was extremely short (1.42 m or 4 ft 8 in). He developed an adult-sized torso while retaining his child-sized legs.

In his less-than-20-year career, Toulouse-Lautrec created over a thousand canvas paintings, watercolors, prints, and posters.

Also, he left over five thousand drawings. His style was influenced by the Impressionists and by the classic Japanese wood prints, which became popular in art circles of his time in Paris.

Portrait of Vincent van Gogh

  • Title:                Portrait of Vincent van Gogh
  • Deutsch:         Porträt des Vincent van Gogh
  • Français :        Portrait de Vincent van Gogh
  • Artist:              Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Year:               1887
  • Medium:         pastel on cardboard
  • Dimensions    Height: 54 cm (21.2 in); Width: 45 cm (17.7 in)
  • Museum:        Van Gogh Museum


Van Gogh’s Friends

A Virtual Tour of the Van Gogh Museum



“I have tried to do what is true and not ideal.”
– Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Photo Credit: 1) By Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec via Wikimedia Commons

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