GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)
Portrait of Trabuc, Attendant at St Paul HospitalSeptember 1889, Saint-Rémy
Oil on canvas, 61 x 46 cm
Catalogue numbers: F 629, JH 1774.
Van Gogh was able to paint some portraits during his stay in Saint-Rémy. The hospital attendant and his wife both sat for him. The couple provided van Gogh with another opportunity to paint a pendant pair of marital portraits.
The attendant is portrayed with considerable force and presence in this bold and monumental portrait. The figure is placed frontally, set solidly in space against a background of delicately textured brushwork. The face is carefully painted with a different pattern of brushstrokes, which describe the contours of the forehead and skull and record all the cavities and slackness of the old man's ageing skin. The palette is softened and harmonious. As a portrait, it is one of van Gogh's most masterful, technically accomplished and controlled.