The Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) is one of the many artists to be inspired by Van Gogh. He drew inspiration from the ‘severity’ of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes.
The Painter on the Road to Tarascon was Bacon’s favourite work by Van Gogh, although he never saw it in real life; the painting was lost in World War II. Bacon only knew of the work through colour reproductions.
In The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, Van Gogh painted himself with all of the tools of the trade that he took with him when painting outdoors. He gave the figure a huge, black shadow. In Francis Bacon’s work, it’s this shadow that has started to lead a life of its own.
‘Actually I’ve always liked early Van Gogh best, but that haunted figure on the road seemed just right at the time – like a phantom in the road, you could say’. - Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon became famous for his paintings of ominous figures. He often painted series exploring variations on a theme. In 1957, he produced a series of interpretations of Van Gogh’s The Painter on the Road to Tarascon. Bacon’s Study for Portrait of Van Gogh IV was part of this series.
Van Gogh inspires
Van Gogh still inspires artists from all corners of the globe. His choice of subject, brushwork and sense of style fire the imaginations of generations of modern and contemporary artists. A work by such an artist is on display at the Van Gogh Museum throughout the year, often together with a work by Van Gogh.