Vincent's Bedroom in Arles

Vincent's Bedroom in Arles Biographies Famous People Tragedies and Triumphs Visual Arts Nineteenth Century Life

Vincent liked this painting of his bedroom at Arles (which he created in October of 1888).  We know what he thought about it because he wrote to his brother, Theo, describing his imaginative process. 

The following is a lengthy excerpt from his October 16, 1888 letter (broken into additional paragraphs for easier reading):

At last I can send you a little sketch to give you at least an idea of the way the work is shaping up.  For today I am all right again.

My eyes are still tired but then I had a new idea in my head and here is the sketch of it. 

Another size 30 canvas. This time it's just simply my bedroom, only here colour is to do everything, and giving by its simplification a grander style to things, is to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general.  In a word, looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination.

The walls are pale violet. The floor is of red tiles.

The wood of the bed and chairs is the yellow of fresh butter, the sheets and pillows very light greenish-citron.

The coverlet scarlet. The window green.

The toilet table orange, the basin blue.

The doors lilac.

And that is all - there is nothing in this room with its closed shutters.

The squareness of the furniture again must express inviolable rest.  Portraits on the walls, and a mirror and a towel and some clothes.

The frame - as there is no white in the picture - will be white.

This by way of revenge for the enforced rest I was obliged to take.

I shall work on it again all day, but you see how simple the conception is.  The shadows and the cast shadows are suppressed; it is painted in free flat tints like the Japanese prints.  It is going to be a contrast to, for instance, the Tarascon diligence and the night café.

This painting is currently owned by the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Jul 22, 2018

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Web Gallery of Art.



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