Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Arles, December 1888
oil on canvas,
35.2 cm x 24.6 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
This plump baby was the youngest child of the postman Joseph Roulin, who sent Van Gogh's paintings from Arles to Paris. The two men became friends, and Van Gogh painted Roulin's entire family: 'the man, his wife, the baby, the young boy and the 16-year-old son, all characters and very French, although they have a Russian look,' he wrote to Theo. He painted several portraits of baby Marcelle – three by herself and two more on her mother's lap.
Van Gogh sent the little portrait to Theo. Theo's wife Jo, who was pregnant at the time, wrote: 'I like to imagine that ours will be as strong, as healthy and as beautiful as that one – and that his uncle will consent to do his portrait one day!'