Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, October 1889
oil on canvas,
32.2 cm x 23.3 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
This man was a fellow-patient at the psychiatric clinic in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh wrote to his mother, ‘It is strange that when one is with them for some time and is used to them, one no longer thinks about their being mad.’ In fact, following a severe crisis in the autumn he had become afraid of the other inmates.
Even so, he painted two portraits of them, including this quick oil sketch. Did he do it to overcome his anxiety? The top left-hand corner of the picture was damaged shortly after it was painted. Nobody knows how.