During his time, Van Goh was able to paint more than thirty self-portraits, a fete that helped place his work among those of other prolific painters that lived during his time. He is renowned for using this painting technique as an introspection method.

Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat

Van Gogh also relied on portrait painting to enable him to enhance his painting skills. The "Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat" was painted during the winter of 1887. He did so after having lived in Paris for close to 2 years. It was at a time when he had devoted all his free time to learn a technique known as the dotted Pointillist. While studying it, he was able to find a way in which he could apply the painting in his work in a style unique to him.

The Painting Process

When painting this self-portrait, he used brush strokes that can be seen running in coordinated directions. He aimed to develop a self-portrait that contained a halo-circle on the region about his crown. It was a unique style that hadn't been applied by other painters before. It's a variation of the Pointillist and its surrounding effect that's considered his primary contribution to this particular painting style.

The self-portrait painting is also deemed as one of his color experiments. In this experiment, he would take complementary colors and place them beside each other via long dash-type brushstrokes. Here, he used orange and blue colors in its background and green and red colors in his beard. It's an approach that helped to enhance color contrast. Since it was painted, the self-portrait has been around for more than a hundred years. As such, the red pigment used by Van Gogh has begun to fade. What this means is that strokes that were initially purple have now turned blue. Furthermore, this means that the painting's initial contrast with the yellow color has also lost its potency.


When he passed away in 1887, the painting was initially located at his brother's apartment; Theo Van Gogh. It was, however, inherited by Jo Van Gogh-Bonger, his widow. After many years of being moved from place to place, the painting is now on permanent loan in Amsterdam, at the Van Gogh Museum, where it has been since 1st July 1994.