GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)

The Drinkers (after Daumier)

February 1890, Saint-Rémy
Oil on canvas, 59 x 73 cm
Art Institute, Chicago

Catalogue numbers: F 667, JH 1884.

Van Gogh entered the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum at Saint-Rémy in May 1889 as a third-class voluntary patient. In the first weeks of his treatment he did not leave the area of the asylum and he only started to paint outside the walls in June 1889. During the rest of the summer the worsening of his condition did not make it possible for him to work outside, thus in July and August he painted mostly portraits and he copied pictures of his favourite artists, Millet and Delacroix. However, his attention was also caught by the peculiar figures of Daumier.

The Drinkers was based on a woodcut after Daumier's original which was entitled The Psychology of Drinkers - the Four Ages. Van Gogh referred to the work only as Drinkers, probably the depicted types of people engaged him more than the allegorical meaning.

In his copies, van Gogh did not make any subjects his own, he merely borrowed them. Daumier's Drinkers simply reminded him of his own excesses in Paris and Arles, but once he painted a copy, the picture re-established its intrinsic power and meaning.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.