Vincent van Gogh - Portrait of Patience Escalier, Shepherd in Provence 1888

Portrait of Patience Escalier, Shepherd in Provence 1888
Portrait of Patience Escalier, Shepherd in Provence
Oil on canvas 64.0 x 54.0 cm. Arles: August, 1888
Pasadena, California: The Norton Simon Museum of Art

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From Norton Simon Museum of Art:
After living in Paris for two years with his brother Theo, Vincent van Gogh decided to move to Arles, in the south of France. He went there to escape what he saw as the decadence of urban life in the French capital, to improve upon his health, and to return to a world less cluttered by corruption and selfishness. The move also facilitated his return to the painting of peasants, “an absolute continuation,” according to the artist, of the work he had accomplished in the small parish of Neunen in 1884–85. This portrait is one of several completed in the few years he lived in Arles, and it is one of two of Patience Escalier, an old gardener and former goatherd. Not dark like his earlier peasant portraits, this work instead presents a spectacular range of pulsating, prismatic color. Van Gogh employed the vibrant palette “as a means of arriving at the expression and the intensification of character”; this approach permanently liberated him from the use of color for purely representational reasons.

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Charles Angrand. Paris, Monday, 25 October 1886.
Dear Sir,
I’ve spoken to Mr Boggs about the meeting I had with you and if you would like to do an exchange with him be bold about it, because you’ll see fine things at his place and he’ll be very pleased to make your acquaintance.
I also propose myself for an exchange. I happen to have 2 views of the Moulin de la Galette that I could spare.
Hoping to see you one of these days, then, I shake your hand.
Yours truly,

Do go and see my brother too (Goupil & Cie, 19 boulevard Montmartre), he has a very fine Degas at the moment. At Tanguy’s I had another look at your young girl with hens, that’s just the study I’d like to exchange with you. Enclosed, one of my brother’s cards, if you didn’t find him there you could always go up and look at the paintings.