“Exasperated by certain people’s photographic and inane perfection.” 

Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh , letter #805, 20.09.1889, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

“Ah, what portraits we could make from life with photography and painting! I always have hopes that a great revolution still awaits us in portraiture.”

Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh. letter #548, 09/ 10.10.1888, Arles


Vincent grew up in the days when the wet plate collodion technique was the most common way of photography. Invented in 1851 by Frederic Scott Archer, 2 years before Vincent was born.

Van Gogh had an aversion to photography. He thought that photographs lacked life, and much preferred painted portraits. In his work, he was primarily concerned with portraying the character of the subject. This explains why there are so few photographs of him. No photos from Van Gogh

The intriguing phenomenon of photography became a point of comparison for artists, including Van Gogh. Although he started off considering photography as being rather ‘mechanical’.

In September 1888 Van Gogh, living in Arles, received from his sister Wilhelmina, a photograph of their mother. In a letter to Theo, Vincent wrote: “I am doing a portrait of Mother for myself. I cannot stand the colorless photograph and am trying to do one in a harmony or color, as I see it in my memory. ” (Letter 546

In letter 548 Vincent said: “I am working on a portrait of Mother, because the black-and-white photograph annoys me so. Ah, what portraits could be made from nature with photography and painting! I always hope that we are still to have a great revolution in portraiture” (Letter 548)

Inspired by his idea of photography, I choose subjects that he has written about, drawn or painted. No Photos from Van Gogh

Platinum palladium prints available at the gallery

Salt prints available at the gallery