Lines and Colors art blog

Vincent or Theo?

Vincent or Theo?
It has long been assumed that Vincent van Gogh never painted a portrait of his brother Theo, despite the number of self-portraits he completed during the two years he lived with Theo in Paris.

Now researchers at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, think they have determined that the presumed self-portrait at right, above, is in fact a portrait of Theo.

They are basing the assertion on an analysis of the facial features in the portrait, other Van Gogh self-portraits, particularly the one shown above, left, and photographs of Theo, who was in many ways similar in appearance to Vincent.

Both paintings, along with 91 others, are part of an extensive exhibition called Van Gogh in Antwerp and Paris: New Perspectives that runs to 18 September, 2011.

There is a feature on the museum’s site about the analysis, and a comparison of the above two portraits.

[Via Art Daily]


10 responses to “Vincent or Theo?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    I don’t have the same opinion that Theo was ‘known’ for the correspondence with his dearly beloved brother Vincent. The two shared a deep philadelphia for one another, almost extinct in these days.

  2. Forgive me if I am giving evidence already sited somewhere else, but I believe these are both self-portraits because the coats are buttoned in reverse, indicating a mirror image thus a self portrait. A quick examination of other Vincent portraits of himself and of others, seem to support this observation.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Sorry John, but Vincent always used to paint buttons the wrong(?)/reversed way as he did with Dr Felix Rey’s jacket.
    The portrait is unmistakably one of THEO! Trust me.

  4. S.E. Hendriksen Avatar
    S.E. Hendriksen

    Vincent didn’t paint bottons the wrong way… he actually painted what he saw. On the dr. Felix Rey portrait he painted his own body from a mirror and put Dr. Reys head on the top.

    He present himself as lefthanded on the 1888 easel painting, no doubt about that.

    The bottons on the 1889 paintings with bandage on left ear is painted OK, reflected from a mirror.

    He also present himself as an lefty at the 1886 and 1889 easel paintings.

    I know about a self-portrait where he have his potato-peeling knife in his left hand. The painting is NOT published yet (private collection).


    Greenland Art Review

  5. Lorette Avatar

    “La tristesse durera toujours” were his last words spoken to Theo as he died in his arms.
    The more I am spent, ill, a broken pitcher, by so much more I am an artist – a creative artist . . .’ (from the Complete Letters of Vincent Van Gogh -cited in Redfield Jamison 1993, p. 117)
    Manic-Depressive Illness (1990) (with Frederick K. Goodwin), ISBN 0-19-503934-3
    Manic-Depressive Illness (2007) (with Frederick K. Goodwin), second edition
    Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament (1993) (includes a study of Lord Byron’s illness), ISBN 0-684-83183-X
    An Unquiet Mind (1995) (autobiography), ISBN 0-679-76330-9
    Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide (1999), ISBN 0-375-70147-8
    Exuberance: The Passion for Life (2004), ISBN 0-375-40144-X
    Nothing Was the Same: A Memoir (2009), ISBN 0-307-26537-4

    C’est ca, by so much more a creative artist, left- or right-handed!

  6. further support for these being self portraits: neither resembles James Donald but both bear a striking resemblance to Kirk Douglas.

  7. Saw two photoes on wikipedia, from that I find it could very well be a portrait of Theo to the right.

  8. I believe van Gogh painted his brother Theo during the time they lived together in Paris.

    The fact that they were soul mates and very much look alike makes makes hard to distinguish between two of them in the several self-portraits by van Gogh.

  9. I think if he had ever experienced painting his brother, he would not stop it and be satisfied by only one portraite ..

    1. Maybe, but he and his brother lived a distance apart for most of the time Vincent was painting, and their primary communication was letters. He may not have had the opportunity to have him sit for a portrait more than once.