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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

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

Vincent van Gogh

“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 was made up of 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 van Gogh

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

Quotes by Vincent van Gogh

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“For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

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“There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.”

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“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

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“I dream of painting, and then I paint my dream.”

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“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.”

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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

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“Whosoever loves much performs much and can accomplish much.”

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“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength.”

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“What is done in love is done well.”

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“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

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“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

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“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day.”

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“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”

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“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”

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“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.”

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“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

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“Conscience is a man’s compass.”

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“I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.”

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Reflections

  • He started painting at age 27 and died at 37, but what a legacy.

“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

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“Be aware of the stars and infinity on high.
Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”

– Vincent van Gogh

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

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