Bedroom in Arles by Vincent Van Gogh was a well-known series of paintings produced by the artist in the French town of Arles where he spent much of his later years
There were three works within this series and they were spread across the prolific period of 1888-1889 when the painter came up with many of his best paintings. Oddly, it was at this time that Vincent was struggling with his own mental condition and bright impressionist paintings as those seen with the Vincent's Bedroom in Arles series were aimed at distracting himself from his own considerable problems which sadly were to get the better of him soon after.
Van Gogh initially intended to just produce the one painting of his own bedroom before it became damaged in a flood. His brother Theo received it through the post and felt that there was significant potential within it to warrant two copies to be made based on what remained of the originals. Vincent was happy to oblige and both new versions followed in September, 1889. The two newer copies stuck closely to the layout and detail of the original but took slighly different colour balances as the artist took advantage of the opportunity for some experimentation on what he had done before.
Vincent's Bedroom can be seen in it's original form in Amsterdam, Chicago and Paris with each art-focused city being fortunate enough to hold one of the three paintings each. There are also occasional exhibitions of Vincent's paintings in other countries, but it is relatively rare for the Van Gogh Museum in Amersterdam to allow it's key paintings such as this one to be allowed for display elsewhere. One recent large scale lend to a national gallery in London is one example of when it has happened, though. Of the two copies made by Van Gogh the first was at the original size of 72 x 90 cm and currently resides in the Art Institute of Chicago. It uses a darker match of the original and also a greater use of blue tones over the original's greeny/blue.
The second copy which followed in the same month came at a smaller size of 57.5 x 74 cm and is itself now stored in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. This version had a greater use of purple tones for the interior of Van Gogh's room and these three versions together offer a suitably different set to choose from to find the one that best matches their own tastes or perhaps the style of their own homes in the case where they are buying a reproduction of it themselves. Van Gogh paintings such as these are incredibly popular as art print reproductions with stretched canvases and posters also proving popular.
Vincent's Bedroom at Arles in it's third, smaller incarnation was what the artist termed as "réductions" and The Bedroom was just one of the previous paintings that he chose for this treatment which aimed at breathing new life and ideas into some of his best previous oil paintings. The Vincent's Bedroom at Arles series incorporates a chair in the foreground which was actually to become the subject of a painting all by itself, which you can see further down this page. The personal status of the items within all these paintings make them popular for his fans who want to understand more about this artist's highly troubled personal life.
The letters of Vincent van Gogh is a highly studied topic for those looking to truly understand the personality of Vincent through his relationships with others and his most interesting and productive letters went to his brother Theo who was an art dealer and one of the few people who believed in Vincent as an artist during his life. Vincent produced several pencil sketches of the original Bedroom painting as preparatory study pieces and also as guides to his brother as to what he had painted. These were included within some letters that he sent in order to get opinions from Theo before sending the canvases across.
Chair by Van Gogh features the chair from his Bedroom as seen above but is offered in far greater detail in this painting where it receives the full focus, but for the small objects that are laid on top of it, namely rolling papers, tobacco and a pipe. These objects plus the chair are all likely to have been Vincent's at the time of this painting. Van Gogh uses the same blue-green that works so well in his earlier Bedroom in Arles painting and this colour works brilliantly against his typical oranges which are used in other parts of both his Chair and Bedroom works. These bright contrasts are crucial to a post-impressionist artist in delivering a powerful finished painting.
Vincent Van Gogh spent an important part of his career in a close friendship with Paul Gauguin who was a similarly skilled artist who had himself a French background. The two found a competitive challenge would spur both on and they interestingly both created still life portraits of a chair and the two together can be compared in order to see the key differences in style and technique between these two artists. Van Gogh was someone who always felt that is was pointless simply trying to match the colours of a painting with exactly how it is in reality, and much prefered to use his own normal colour choices within each subject that he chose to cover.
Almond Branches in Bloom as seen above is a painting from Van Gogh that has established itself as one of the most reproduced works of all within the current art market, despite the original not being considered amongst his absolute best. The combination of traditional Japanese wooden block styles with the imaginative and bold colour choices of this artist make it a truly memorable painting.
It is a real surprise to anyone that studies this artist in depth that he was able to produce such calm and stunning oil paintings whilst his own mind was filled with such confusion, dissatisfaction and general negativities. One can only assume that painting was Vincent's way of blocking out these thoughts and concentrate on his great passions of colour and artistic beauty.
List of Vincent Van Gogh Paintings in 1888 and 1889
The series of three paintings plus preparatory pencil sketches and documentary letters for the Bedroom in Arles series all came about from 1888 to 1889 but there were also many other significant paintings by Van Gogh during this time, as listed below.
L'Arlesienne: Portrait of Madame Ginoux
Entrance to the Public Park in Arles (Man Reading a Newspaper in the Public Garden)
The Night Café
The Yellow House
Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers
Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers
Starry Night Over the Rhone
L'allée des Alyscamps
Langlois Bridge at Arles
Self-Portrait as an Artist
Portrait of Armand Roulin
Portrait of Postman Roulin
Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Paul Gauguin)
Five Sunflowers in a Vase
Still Life: Majolica Jug with Wildflowers
The Old Mill
The Red Vineyard
Pink Peach Tree
Vincent's Chair with His Pipe
The Sower with Setting Sun
Enclosed Field with Rising Sun
Wheat Field with Cypresses
The Road Menders
Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin
Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape (with the Alpilles in the Background)
View of Arles
Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe
Portrait of a Young Peasant
The Starry Night
Hospital at San Remy
The Church at Auvers
Asylum garden at San Remy
The Pietà (after Delacroix)
Portrait of Trabuc; Chief Orderly at Saint-Paul Hospital
Vincent van Gogh is just one of a number of impressive European artists who around the turn of the century between the 19th and 20th centuries were prominent within the post-impressionist art movement which includes a large diversity in styles and ideas.
Tom Gurney in an art history expert. He received a BSc (Hons) degree from Salford University, UK, and has also studied famous artists and art movements for over 20 years. Tom has also published a number of books related to art history and continues to contribute to a number of different art websites. You can read more on Tom Gurney here.