The Van Gogh Museum is hosting a blog about the famous painting, The Bedroom (1888). You can read the post here .
The picture has a story to tell. It was painted in 1888 and it was exhibited at the annual exhibition of The Société des Artistes Indépendants. It was not well received and in fact, it was ridiculed. This dark, somber picture of a peasant girl on her straw bed with a man lying beside her was not considered to be up to standard by art critics at that time. It is said that Vincent had his ear to the door of the exhibition room listening to the comments of visitors, who were shocked by what they saw.
The girl’s pose and facial expression are difficult to interpret, but some believe she is either pregnant or has given birth very recently and that the man in bed beside her is not her husband. Vincent painted this scene with thick impasto and used colors such as brown, yellow ocher, white lead, green earth, blue and red oxide in order to create this dramatic atmosphere. He wrote: “the bedroom I tried to express sadness and tenderness in a peasant girl’s room.”
The painting has been described as being one of his most original works, which he
Van Gogh’s Sleep is a painting by Vincent van Gogh. It was painted in September 1888 and it is held in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
The painting depicts the artist’s friend, Paul Gauguin, asleep on his chest. Van Gogh painted in Gauguin’s favorite color: the green earth used to paint the walls of his studio. The artist wrote to his brother Theo that he had at first wanted to depict Gauguin with a book (presumably a Bible) but then decided against this because it would have “been too much in the realist style”. He also mentions that he has tried to show in the painting that he and Gauguin are “not working for money but for art”.
Towards the end of September 1888, Vincent van Gogh walked from Arles to Saint-Rémy to see Dr Paul Gachet, who had earlier treated him for his mental problems. On his way there, he spent several days in Aix-en-Provence with his brother Theo and another painter, Paul Gauguin. While there, they painted Les Alyscamps. In a letter to his brother dated 7 October 1888, Vincent describes an impression of this painting: “Yesterday I
Sleep is an oil painting made by Vincent van Gogh in September 1889. It is owned by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and is on display there.
Van Gogh painted Sleep, of which the original was not larger than a postcard, in Saint-Rémy de Provence, southern France, during what is commonly known as his “Arles period”. The work was completed during a stay in an asylum at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole where Van Gogh had voluntarily admitted himself. The painting is part of the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art but has been displayed on a rotating basis at the Metropolitan Museum of Art starting in July 2012. Since 5 January 2013 it has been exhibited at the National Gallery as part of an exhibit titled “Van Gogh: Up Close.”
In the painting, van Gogh shows his appreciation for how art can convey emotions. In the background of the painting, he included a landscape which evokes calmness and relaxation. The painting does not have much movement in it, which could indicate that van Gogh was trying to portray a peaceful state of mind.
The colors used in Sleep are dark and dull; however, there is a small range of color. The surface of the painting is textured, which contributes to the final appearance of the piece.
In the piece, van Gogh used a sanding technique with different amounts of pressure on his brush to build form and texture in his work. Because he used dark colors in this work, there aren’t many visible brushstrokes.
There are two major symbols that are prevalent in this piece. The first symbol is the bed or cot that is resting on a wooden table and is draped with sheets that are decorated with red-orange flowers which appear to be poppies. The second symbol is the pair of cypress trees near the left corner of the piece that shows age and endurance throughout time.
“The painting had a hard life,” says The Nation. It is indeed, but there are other ways of putting it. In the first place it was attacked by vandals who slashed its canvas, cut off its ear and tried to set it on fire. Then, during the Second World War, it was taken by the Nazis and ended up in Dresden where it was destroyed by bombs in 1945. It was reconstructed in New York and has since been acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC where it now hangs safe from further attacks.
The story of this painting is not just one of material damage but of changing responses to it. The artist himself had mixed feelings about it, finding that he could not duplicate the effect he had achieved with his palette knife – though he did try again to do so with The Painter on His Way to Work which is also on display at the National Gallery of Art. The critics were slow to take up his work – an early reviewer wrote that “there is nothing more terrible than this painting” – but Van Gogh himself continued to work and rework this image altering the size and shape of his composition as well as modifying the colours in which he painted certain elements such as the bedding.
What struck me most when I first saw
The painting was in the possession of a Dutch family and was sold at an auction in The Hague on 30 March 1882. It was bought by art dealer Octave Maus (1856-1940), who sold it to Paris art dealer Julien ‘Père’ Tanguy (1850-1921) before the end of 1882, after which it entered the collection of French politician and art collector Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1852-1921).
At some point during World War II, George L. Stout, former chief of conservation at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., secretly removed the painting from France to prevent it from getting damaged or destroyed during the Nazi occupation. He stored it at his farm outside Trenton, New Jersey until 1945 when he gave it to the Gallery.
Tanguy’s son Paul then sued Stout in a court case that lasted twelve years. In 1954 a court decided that Stout had acted properly in removing the painting from France and ruled that he could keep it.
It is believed that George Stout may have been trying to keep it safe during World War II because he knew about a Nazi plot to steal all of the world’s great master
On the back of the frame is a handwritten note, reading “Cette toile a ete achetee par le proprieteir en 1877, au prix de 400 francs (or fr) et est la proprieteir d’Edouard Rouart.” This translates as “This painting was bought by the owner in 1877 for 400 francs. It belongs to Edouard Rouart.”
Rouart was Vincent van Gogh’s first art dealer. He bought several paintings from the Dutch artist and sold one to an Englishman in 1880. He remained Van Gogh’s only art dealer until Theo took over that role after Vincent left Paris for Arles at the end of 1881. Edouard Rouart was a friend of Van Gogh’s brother, and he may also have been aware of Van Gogh’s madness and financial difficulties.
The handwritten note on this painting could be interpreted as evidence of his desire to help Vincent – perhaps he had even tried to persuade him not to leave Paris for Arles, knowing that his absence would make it difficult for Theo to sell his work. But there is no way of knowing whether this is true.
The man who wrote this note may never have seen the painting; he may