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Vincent Van Gogh - THE PARIS YEARS

THE PARIS YEARS (Illustration) Biographies Famous People Social Studies Visual Arts Geography Nineteenth Century Life

After Vincent moved to Paris, he gradually lightened his paintings from the dark colors he’d used previously, including 1885's “The Potato Eaters.” In this image, we see his “Still-Life with French Novels and a Rose,” an oil-on-canvas (measuring 73 x 93 cm) which he created during the autumn of 1887. Online via the Web Gallery of Art. Click on the image for a better view.

 

Vincent's letters reveal he could be abrasive. He didn't like criticism - his return of Anthon van Rappard's letter regarding The Potato Eaters is just one example - and his family relationships were sometimes strained. One can surely understand Theo's reluctance to invite his brother to Paris.

In March of 1886, however, Vincent showed up at Theo's door (at 54 Rue Lepic in the Montmartre district) without an invitation. What could Theo do but invite his brother to stay?

Because the brothers lived together, Vincent didn't write to Theo while he lived in Paris. As a result, few letters from this period help to illuminate the developing artist's life.

Biographers tell us, however, that Theo's contacts in the art world helped Vincent to see exhibits by Impressionists (such as Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Seurat and Sisley). Their ground-breaking work, including Seurat's Pointillism, surely made an impact on van Gogh, although his developing style was unique.

The following paintings - examples from his time in Paris - reveal that Vincent studied the city's environs (and Montmartre's windmills) after he arrived at his brother's apartment. At first his work is dark, reflecting the colors of his prior art and his Dutch background, but his palette soon gets lighter and incorporates the brighter colors favored by the Impressionists:

  • A year after he arrived in Paris, Vincent's winter trees are without leaves but he is experimenting with new techniques and brighter colors.

Vincent discovered something else in Paris which would influence his future work: Japanese art. Long closed to ships from the western world, Japan had recently opened its ports. Prints from brightly colored Japanese woodcuts were cheaply available in Paris, and van Gogh bought - and copied - some of them.

Let's sample selections of Japanese art which had Paris buzzing during Vincent's sojourn there.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2008

Updated Last Revision: May 01, 2016


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