Wilma Konijn asks what Vincent thought of the colour black, and whether he used it. Discover the answer.
In 1885, Theo and Vincent exchanged letters discussing the use of black. During his time in Paris, Theo had grown accustomed to modern, impressionistic works featuring bright colours, and advised his brother to try painting using colours that weren’t so dark. At the time, Vincent lived in the Netherlands and still used a fairly sombre palette dominated by earth-colours.
Vincent returns to the discussion in several letters. On 20 October 1885 he wrote: ‘But — tell me — black and white, may one use them or not? Are they forbidden fruit? I think not. Frans Hals must have had twenty-seven blacks.’
In Van Gogh’s French period, black was gradually driven out of his palette. If Vincent needed a purer, darker tone, he used the deep-blue pigment of Prussian blue instead of black.