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“Self Portrait with Felt Hat” by Vincent van Gogh

Self-portrait with Felt Hat by Vincent van Gogh

“Self Portrait with Felt Hat” by Vincent van Gogh

“Self Portrait with Felt Hat” by Vincent van Gogh is one of the dozens of self-portraits, Van Gogh made, and they were an essential part of the 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.

Van Gogh painted this self-portrait in the winter of 1887, after living in Paris for nearly two years. During his time in Paris, he devoted to studying the dotted Pointillist technique, and he taught himself to apply it in his unique way. In this self-portrait, he used brushstrokes running in orchestrated directions to create a self-portrait with a halo-like circle round his head. This variation of Pointillist and the effect it produced was Van Gogh’s unique contribution to a new style of painting.

The painting is also one of Van Gogh’s colour experiments, where he placed complementary colours along one another using long dash-type brushstrokes. He used blue and orange in the background and red and green in the beard. This approach intensified the colour contrast. Today, over one-hundred years later,  the red pigment has started fading, so the purple strokes are now blue, which means the contrast with the yellow is also less powerful.

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


  • How successful is this “colour experiment” for Vincent van Gogh?
  • Have you seen one of Van Gogh’s many self-portraits?
  • How many people living today are considered unsuccessful, but in the future, history will prove them highly influential?
  • Vincent Van Gogh was considered unsuccessful in his lifetime. How prevalent is this story?

Self Portrait with Felt Hat

  • Title:                        Self Portrait with Felt Hat
  • Artist:                      Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                        1887
  • Medium:                 Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions            44 × 37.5 cm (17.3 × 14.8 in)
  • Period:                    Post-Impressionism
  • 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