Vincent van Gogh painted his first known self-portrait in 1886, following the model of the 17th-century Dutch artist Rembrandt. But by the time he made this work, a year later, he had clearly shifted his allegiance from the Old Masters to the Parisian avant-garde. Under the influence of Neo-Impressionist color theory, he based this painting on the contrast of complementary colors. The overall blue-green tone of the background serves as a foil to the orange-red of the artist’s hair and beard. While the intensity of the colors is enhanced by the brushwork, the painting’s energy and turbulence hint at the inner life of the artist.


  • Title: Self-Portrait
  • Creator: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1853/1890
  • Date Created: 1887
  • Physical Dimensions: 41 × 32.5 cm (16 1/8 × 13 1/4 in.)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Oil on artist’s board, mounted on cradled panel
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Joseph Winterbotham Collection, 1954.326
  • Artist: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)

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