Vincent van Gogh. Portrait of Joseph Roulin. Arles, early 1889

Vincent van Gogh

Portrait of Joseph Roulin

Arles, early 1889

Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
25 3/8 x 21 3/4" (64.4 x 55.2 cm)
Credit
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rosenberg, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Mr. and Mrs. Armand P. Bartos, The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Werner E. Josten, and Loula D. Lasker Bequest (all by exchange)
Object number
196.1989
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in a Collection Gallery, with 19 other works online.
Vincent van Gogh has 6 works  online.
There are 2,383 paintings online.

This portrait of Joseph Roulin is one of six van Gogh painted of his close friend, a postal employee in the southern French town of Arles, a fifteen-hour train ride from Paris. Van Gogh had moved to Arles in 1888, hoping to create an artists cooperative there. The plan never came to fruition, and the artist became lonely and isolated. He found comfort and companionship with the Roulin family, and they are the subjects of many of his paintings. In this portrait, Roulin is depicted in the uniform he always wore proudly, set against an imaginative backdrop of swirling flowers. In a letter to his brother Theo, the artist wrote that, of all genres, "the modern portrait" excited him the most: "I want to paint men and women with that something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolize, and which we try to convey by the actual radiance and vibration of our coloring."

Gallery label from 2012

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
1889, Vincent van Gogh, Arles, France.
April 1889 - January 1891, Theo van Gogh (1857-1891), Paris, acquired from his brother Vincent van Gogh.
January 1891 - December 1923, Johanna (Jo) van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam, in trust for her son, Vincent Willem van Gogh, Amsterdam, inherited from Theo van Gogh.
December 1923/January 9, 1924 - February 1924, Tate Gallery (National Gallery, Modern Foreign Section), purchased through Jo van Gogh-Bonger and Leicester Galleries, London.
February 1924 - February 21, 1924, Jo van Gogh-Bonger, Amsterdam, reacquired by exchange from Tate Gallery.
February 21, 1924 - March 30, 1926, Galerie Thannhauser (Siegfried Rosengart), Lucerne, purchased through Jo van Gogh-Bonger and Leicester Galleries, London.
March 30, 1926 - 1946, Bernhard Mayer, Zürich/Ascona and New York, purchased from Galerie Thannhauser.
1946 - ?, Ernst and Gabrielle Mayer, Zürich/Ascona, inherited from their father Bernhard Mayer.
1989, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired by exchange from Swiss private collection through Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zürich.

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