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“Self Portrait, dedicated to Paul Gauguin” by Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh self-portrait dedicated to Gauguin

“Self Portrait, dedicated to Paul Gauguin” by Vincent van Gogh is a self-portrait depicting his face as it appeared in the mirror, his right side in the image is, in reality, the left side of his face. Van Gogh’s painted dozens of self-portraits, they were an essential part of his the body of work of a painter.

Vincent van Gogh wanted to reinvent painting through the genre of portraiture, he encouraged other artists to paint themselves, and then to exchange the canvases. Van Gogh received self-portraits from Emile Bernard, and Gauguin and Van Gogh sent this portrait to Gauguin with the inscription “To my friend Paul Gauguin”. He described the process of creating his portrait in several letters to his brother Theo, an art dealer in Paris, explaining how he modelled his features influenced by Japanese prints. He added colouristic effect with the contours of his jacket for and painted the background in a “pale Veronese green” without shadows.

Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions; he often neglected his physical health, did not eat properly and drank heavily. His friendship with Gauguin ended after a confrontation with a razor when in a rage, he severed part of his left ear. Soon after, Gauguin sold this painting.

Van Gogh spent time in psychiatric hospitals, however, his depression continued and on 27 July 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died at 37 years of age from his injuries two days later.

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.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                        Self Portrait (dedicated to Paul Gauguin)
  • Artist:                       Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                         1888
  • Medium:                  Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions            61.5 × 50.3 cm (24.2 × 19.8 in)
  • Museum:                Fogg Art Museum, Harvard Art Museums

Artist Essential Facts:


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



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