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The Mystery Of Vincent Van Gogh’s Photos

Artists' Stories

The Mystery Of Vincent Van Gogh’s Photos

Vincent van Gogh famously recorded himself in numerous self-portraits, but he hated photography and supposedly he never sat for a photo as an adult. There are two rare photos of the artist as a child that are known to exist.

One was taken when he was 13:

Vincent van Gogh in 1866

Vincent van Gogh in 1866 (Or his brother Theo?)


Some say that it may be Vincent’s brother, Theo. But it’s really hard to explain that with the 100% certainty. Another photo was taken when he was 19 – and again some say it may be Theo:

Vincent van Gogh at age 19. (Photo: Jacobus Marinus Wilhelmus Jacobus Marinus Wilhelmus (J.M.W.) de Louw

Vincent van Gogh at age 19. (Photo: Jacobus Marinus Wilhelmus Jacobus Marinus Wilhelmus (J.M.W.) de Louw

He was a handsome young man, wasn’t he?


There is another famous photo. This one:

Who's that guy?

Who’s that guy?

This photo was never officially confirmed to be van Gogh’s. “Officially” means that the Van Gogh Museum did not authenticate it. There is another problem – the address below the photo marks a Canadian location, and van Gogh obviously never lived outside of Europe.


But look at this comparison:

Find 5 differences

Find 5 differences

The portrait you see on the right is an oil painting by van Gogh, completed in December, 1886. The photograph (at left) was also taken in 1886. Weird similarity, isn’t it?

Jules Antoine, Vincent Van Gogh in conversation with friends, Paris, 96 rue Blanche, December 1887, “Gautier Martin” stamp, recto.

Jules Antoine, Vincent Van Gogh in conversation with friends, Paris, 96 rue Blanche, December 1887, “Gautier Martin” stamp, recto.


Also recently, a 1887 melainotype showing six men drinking around a table has been discovered. It may include a rare sighting of Vincent. With Paul Gauguin (at far right) and Emile Bernard (second from the left). But, the photo expert for the Van Gogh Museum said it can’t be the artist “because it simply does not look like him”. Others note that Van Gogh didn’t mention the gathering in his letters, where he described all the details from his life. The photograph was put into auction but it did not meet its asking price of $136,000.

Even more recently Italian art historian Antonio De Robertis claimed to have identified Vincent in this Edmond Bénard photo of 34 men posing together at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1888. According to De Robertis, the men in the photograph include Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, as well as Andries Bonger, friend and brother-in-law to Theo van Gogh.

Photo: courtesy the National Institute of Art History in Paris.

Photo: courtesy the National Institute of Art History in Paris.


But, it is another unconfirmed information.

So, we don’t have any photos and we cannot be sure how van Gogh’s looked like as an adult. So what do we have?

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat , 1887, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat , 1887, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

34 painted self-portraits and 4 drawings. That’s quite a number 🙂

 

Art Historian, huge fan of Giorgione and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Founder and CEO of DailyArtMagazine.com and DailyArt mobile app. But to be honest, her greatest accomplishment is being the owner of Pimpek the Cat.

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