Van Gogh painted this chair as a kind of portrait of his colleague Paul Gauguin during the time he stayed with him in Arles in the south of France. Van Gogh later wrote: 'It is a study of his armchair of dark, red-brown wood, the seat of greenish straw, and in the absent person's place a lighted candlestick and some modern novels.' (See letter to Albert Aurier, 9/10 February 1890). Van Gogh also painted his own chair. Due to their stubborn characters, the cooperation between the two painters was short-lived.