While Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits were a significant part of his painting career, no confirmed photographs of the artist as an adult are known to exist. However, an 1887 melanotype that recently came to light reportedly shows van Gogh smoking a pipe while having a drink with friends.
Serge Plantureux wrote for L’Oeil de la Photographie that the photograph was identified through discovering the names of the other figures in the picture (who include artists Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, no small discovery in themselves), fixing it in a place and time, and analyzing the photographic process. He writes that the shot came to him through a couple who stopped by his Paris pop-up gallery:
The photograph they had brought to show me was small, dark, and rather difficult to see. Six characters were around a table. The light was pale, perhaps it was a winter afternoon.
They told me, still hesitant, that they thought they recognized the people in it, artists in whom they had long been interested. They were collectors and liked the painters of the late 19th century, in particular the neo-impressionists. They also said it was possible that one of the figures around the table was someone whose true face had never been seen.
Michael Zhang at PetaPixel points out that there are confirmed photos of van Gogh at 13 and 19. There are also other unconfirmed photographs of van Gogh, such as this portrait found in the 1990s. The 1887 photograph went to auction today at the Romantic Agony in Brussels, which is quite the appropriately named auction house for the troubled 19th-century artist whose true face — beyond his own, pensive self-portraits — remains mysterious. That said, now that he’s turning up in NYC subway trains and the odd 19th-century photograph, who knows where we’ll see van Gogh next?
UPDATE: According to DutchNews.nl, the photograph expert at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is not convinced that it is of the painter.
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The unconfirmed one looks more like him then this.
gee his hair and beard are dark? I thought he was a fair to red headed? Who says this is him?
May not be him, as much as we would want it to be http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/04/van-gogh-photo-unlikely-to-be-him-experts-say/
Thanks for this link, I’ll add an update.
Six guys sitting around having a drink together makes them “drunk artists?”
The headline is laughable. These people are not DRUNK. They are just drinking.
We actually don’t know if they’re drunk but look at the liquor, if they didn’t get tipsy or something then they’re not doing it right. 😉
Their mistresses just haven’t cleared all the bottles from last week!
There is no mention in Van Gogh’s 1887 letters of the meeting, photo or being with the group of men. http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html
Good to see this photograph. (And they do not appear to be drunk. -wondering of your headline perhaps stems from Amercan puritanism??))
oops, typo : should be “American”
That’s not Van Gogh. It is clearly Ulysses S. Grant.
Fantastic stereotyping, OR. When’s the last time any artist or artistic publication could be construed as puritanical? Not in our lifetime.
Interesting photo whether Van Gogh or not. None of the artists look altogether tortured. That’s what a good beer does for one.
I know what the illegitimate great grand son of Van Gogh looked like at age 12 having met him & his parents in Europe in the late 60’s in Europe in an incredible dramatic twist of fate. I wrote it all up on Facebook some 2 years ago. It was corroborated by passports, etc. None of this was known by the Van Gogh Museum. The kid even then looked exactly like a very young Vincent. Yes his hair was red. This photo does not look like Van Gogh although it’s conceivable.
I’ve just made a new Facebook Note about all this on my page of my personal experiences in 1968 in Europe meeting the illegitimate great grand son of Vincent — & there are just now several new kinds of related questions brought up & also answers by myself & others in the comments.
Bill Rabinovitch “Mountains at Starry Night” 07-17-13
Includes in the comments my Unknown Van Gogh Story of Vincent’s illegitimate great grandson. Totally True story just as it happened to me in Europe in the late 60’s I wrote up on Facebook in 2013.
Mixed Media on Paper
Interestig, yes. Calling them “Drunks” in the article’s title reveals a bit about the author — “artist envy” perhaps?
The editors, me included, decided the title. And yes, the title was a call to action! If only we celebrated getting drunk once in a while.
NICE TRY HRAG — “BUT NO CIGAR”
We did not mention cigars.
Hrag — touche! It was a great article!
Thank you for calling us out. We knew people would have fun with this one.
this is totally amazing
one bottle of wine for six people — a debauch indeed.
There appears to be three bottles on the table.
There’s the long-necked bottle, yes, clearly a wine bottle. The one directly in front of that seems to me — given its shape, that it’s lighter on the bottom and darker on the top, and centered on the table, and given the darkness of the original photograph — to be something like a hurricane lamp. The one on its side in front of the purported Vincent looks like a mid- to late-20th-century milk bottle.
I’m not a specialist in 19th-century bottling procedures (modern bottling employs different shapes for different wines), and I do doubt that there was milk consumption going on here, but I would put money on the hurricane lamp-like one not being a wine bottle. 😉
I am pleased to announce the photo has been sold in an after sale negotiation to a senior Manhattan collector, of both photography and contemporary art.
Research will follow on, the last months of Vincent Van Gogh in Paris with the 96 rue Blanche exhibition being the main subject of investigation. The paper publication Nicephore, cahier de photographie n°3 will be distributed at mid-september.
Gauguin and Van Gogh were never ‘friends.’ They were introduced to each other through unusual circumstances, (a result of Vincent’s brother) but, they only mannaged to ‘tolerate’ each other for a short period of time. They argued and fought constantly, culminating in Paul Gauguin leaviing their living arrangements permenantly.
Can waith to see the full photo series…
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