Self-portraits by Vincent van Gogh

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Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait without beard, end September 1889, (F 525), Oil on canvas, 40 × 31 cm., Private collection. This was Van Gogh's last self-portrait. Given as a birthday gift to his mother.[1]

The dozens of self-portraits by Vincent van Gogh were an important part of his oeuvre as a painter. Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) created many self-portraits during his lifetime. Most probably, Van Gogh's self-portraits are depicting the face as it appeared in the mirror he used to reproduce his face, i.e. his right side in the image is in reality the left side of his face.


Paris 1886[edit]

The first self-portrait by Van Gogh that survived, is dated 1886.

Paris 1887[edit]

Portrait of Theo, March or April 1887, (once considered Self-Portrait with Straw Hat), re-attributed in 2011 by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (F294)


Painter on his way to work: Vincent van Gogh on the road to Montmajour
August 1888 (F 448)
Oil on canvas, 48 × 44 cm
formerly Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Magdeburg, believed to have been destroyed by fire in World War II


All Self-Portraits executed in Saint-Rémy show the artist's head from the left, i.e. the side with ear not mutilated.


No self-portraits were executed by Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise, during the final weeks of his life.


  • F525: This painting was van Gogh's last self-portrait, which he gave to his mother as a birthday gift.[1] Van Gogh painted Self-Portrait without beard just after he had shaved himself. The self-portrait is one of the most expensive paintings of all time, selling for $71.5 million in 1998 in New York. At the time, it was the third (or an inflation-adjusted fourth) most expensive painting ever sold.


A confiscated self-portrait [Self-portrait dedicated to Paul Gauguin, September 1888], by Vincent van Gogh is auctioned at Gallerie Fisher, Lucerne, in 1939. The winning bid was $US 40.000 by Dr. Frankfurter.[6]
  • F476: Vincent van Gogh, Arles, (1888,) gift; to Paul Gauguin, (1888-1897) sold. [Ambroise Vollard, Paris.] [Paul Cassirer Gallery, Berlin.] Dr. Hugo von Tschudi, Berlin, (1906-1911), by descent; to his widow, Angela von Tschudi, Munich (1911-1919), to Neue Staatsgalerie, (1919-1939) sold; [Entartete Kunst sale, 1939, Fischer Gallery, Lucerne,Switzerland, no. 45]; to Maurice Wertheim (1939-1951) bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951. Notes: Gauguin sold the painting for Fr 300, Hugo von Tschudi bought the painting for the Nationalgalerie, Berlin, with funds from sponsors, but did not submit it to the Kaiser for pre-approval. He took the painting to Munich when he assumed post there.[7]


During the Third Reich regime in Germany, Vincent van Gogh paintings were stolen and/or destroyed by German authorities including the self-portrait [Self-portrait dedicated to Paul Gauguin, September 1888], depicted in the black and white picture.


Self-Portrait, à l'oreille mutilé, 1889? (F 528)
Oil on canvas, 40 × 31 cm
National Gallery, Oslo

Almost at the same time as when his Catalogue raisonné was published, Jacob Baart de la Faille had to admit that he had included paintings emerging from dubious sources, and of dubious quality. Little later, in 1930, De la Faille rejected some thirty odd paintings, which he had originally included in his Catalogue raisonné - together with a hundred of others he had already excluded: Self-portraits - and Sunflowers - held a prominent place in the set he now rejected. In 1970, the editor's of De la Faille's posthumous manuscript brand marked most of these dubious Self-portraits as forgeries,[8] but could not settle all disputes, at least on one:

  • The Selfportrait 'a l'éstampe japonais', then in the collection of William Goetz, Los Angeles, was included, though all editors refused its authenticity.[9]

Meanwhile, the authenticity of a second "self-portrait" has been challenged:

  • The Selfportrait, 'à l'oreille mutilé', acquired in 1910 for the Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo, has been unanimously rejected by recent scholars and technical researchers for decades, until provenance research by staff members now reported pro domo the contrary.[10] The debate is on-going.

Portraits of Vincent van Gogh by other artists[edit]


Due to the considerable number of self-portraits by Van Gogh's, for a valid identification reference is to the numbers of Jacob Baart de la Faille's Catalogue raisonné (1928 & 1970) (F) or to Jan Hulsker's updated compilation (1978, revised 1989) (JH).


  1. ^ a b Pickvance (1986), 131
  2. ^ "Vincent van Gogh - Self-portrait". Online catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. 
  3. ^ "To Theo van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Thursday, 5 and Friday, 6 September 1889". Vincent van Gogh: The Letters. Van Gogh Museum. Note 4. Retrieved 26 February 2012. "People say – and I’m quite willing to believe it – that it’s difficult to know oneself ..." 
  4. ^ "To Theo van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Friday, 20 September 1889". Vincent van Gogh: The Letters. Van Gogh Museum. Note 14. Retrieved 26 February 2012. "I have another one which is an attempt from when I was ill." 
  5. ^ "To Willemien van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Thursday, 19 September 1889". Vincent van Gogh: The Letters. Van Gogh Museum. Note 16. Retrieved 26 February 2012. "Lately I’ve done two portraits of myself, one of which is quite in character, I think, ..." 
  6. ^ Hammerstingl, Werner (1998). "Entartete Kunst", Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  7. ^ "Fogg Museum collection". Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  8. ^ De la Faille 1970, nos. CHK
  9. ^ De la Faille 1970, no. 476a: inscribed étude à la bougie
  10. ^ Marit Ingeborg Lange: The provenance of Vincent van Gogh's 'Self-portrait' in Oslo, Burlington Magazine CXLVIII/1235, February 2006, p.113-116
  11. ^ USA Today


  • Hammacher, A. M.: Van Gogh: Selbstbildnisse, Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1960; 2nd edition 1970
  • Van Lindert, Juleke, & Van Uitert, Evert: Een eigentijdse expressie: Vincent van Gogh en zijn portretten, Meulenhoff/Landshoff, Amsterdam 1990 ISBN 90-290-8350-6
  • Dorn, Roland: Vincent, portraitiste: Bemerkungen zu ein paar heissen Eisen, in: Lukas Gloor, ed.: Van Gogh echt falsch: Zwei Selbstbildnisse der Sammlung Emil Bührle, Zürich 2005, pp. 7 – 21
  • Pickvance, Ronald. Van Gogh In Saint-Rémy and Auvers (exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Abrams, 1986. ISBN 0-87099-477-8

External links[edit]