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

Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat

Winter 1887/88, Paris
Oil on canvas, 44 x 38 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Catalogue numbers: F 344, JH 1353.

Van Gogh often used himself as a model for practicing figure painting. His Paris self-portraits serve as a useful record of his painterly experiments. In this self-portrait of winter 1887/88, there is no systematic use of a single, unifying method of paint application. He used scattered dots of colour in the background and an overall reduction of the size of the brushmarks. He employed a distinct kind of mark for each area of the canvas, and these diverse and almost graphic systems of marks are related to the object or texture being represented. In the treatment of the face and head, the brushstrokes are directional, following and thus describing the planes and shapes in order to convey the structure and volume of the head or the texture and growth pattern of the facial hair.

The portrait informs us about van Gogh in Paris. The image he presents by portraying himself in smart suit and hat is of van Gogh as a man of the city. In Paris, he studied the dotted Pointillist technique, and learned to apply it in his own fashion.

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