Sunday, July 29, 2007


This last portrait by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was made during the artist's stay in Auvers (near Paris, France) in 1890 where he rented a cheap room (3,5 FF /day) in the café of the family Ravoux. Vincent made this portrait of the daughter of the innkeeper, Arthur-Gustave Ravoux : she was then 13 but looked 16. After painting the portrait he gave it to the family to thank them. Mlle Ravoux described the portrait as a "symphony in blue." Van Gogh finished at least seventy paintings in the seventy days he lived in Auvers, the final days of his life.

Van Gogh painted with his heart since he so beloved all the pure colors. "How beautiful was yellow! How lovely was red! He wanted to paint with the simplicity that a child thinks. To go back to nature meant to see the world as a child sees it, act as a child, feel as a child. This is why he believed color should be applied pure, with a sense of urgency on the canvas. The sense of emotion could only be achieved without exactness. A very arguable point but who am I to argue with van Gogh ?

Vincent then lapsed into the madness that took his life and died a month later. This last painting was bought in 1921 for $20,000, along with two other Van Gogh works, by a sharp-eyed Pennsylvania clergyman named Theodore Pitcairn, heir of a very wealthy family. It also used to belong to the New Yorker artist Katherine Sophie Dreier (1877-1952) who lent it to the Armory show. In 1966, it was sold for $441,000 -the highest price for a van Gogh- to art collector Walter P. Chrysler Jr. (1909-1988) and it is now in the Cleveland museum of Art.

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