Portrait of Pere Tanguy
Portrait of Pere Tanguy
Portrait of Pere Tanguy, painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1887, is one of his three paintings of Julien Tanguy. Tanguy was an art supplier from whom Vincent bought paint, canvases and brushes and his shop was frequented by the other post impressionists of the time. He was affectionately referred to as father or “pere” Tanguy instead of Julien by those who knew him, many having their work hung on the walls of his shop – as Vincent did.
The three works demonstrate a progression in Van Gogh’s artistic style after his arrival in Paris. The first is somber, and formed from a simple composition. The second introduces Van Gogh’s Japanese prints in the fall of 1887. This last and most advanced in style, skill and color integrates Japanese, Impressionist, and other influences on the Parisian artist community is painted in the winter of 1887. This painting conveys a sense of serenity that Van Gogh seeks for himself. This painting of Tanguy is in the Musee Rodin, Paris.
The works of the Japanese printmakers Hiroshige and Hokusai greatly influenced Van Gogh, both for the subject matter and the style of flat patterns of colors without shadow. In the two years from 1886 through 1888 he spent working in Paris, Van Gogh explored the various genres, eventually creating his own unique style combining emotional brush strokes of varying width and thickness and seeking color combinations the eye and mind react to.
The brightly colored painting and confident subject represent a shift in Vincent’s attitude. Applying the color theories of Chevreul and Henry, he works with Signac and Bernard over the summer seeking complimentary colors and opposites on the color wheel to better feel their effect. The painting of Tanguy in his place of business contains a background of Van Gogh’s Japanese prints that were sold at Tanguy’s shop and which Vincent and Theo shared a love for and collection of them. On top of Tanguy’s hat is Mount Fuji with Kabuki actors flanked by cherry blossoms. Some see a bit of the Buddha in father Tanguy’s contented and knowing smile. He supported Vincent with supplies and canvas when his money was tight and did this for many of the struggling artists of the Petit Boulevard in the late 1880s, taking paintings in lieu of payment.
Vincent died in 1890 and Pere Tanguy died four years after. Following Tanguy’s death, his daughter sold the Portrait of Pere Tanguy to sculptor Auguste Rodin and is now in the collection at the Musee Rodin. His wife was not among Vincent’s friends as she worried more about the bank account than Pere did, but in the end, his friends staged an auction of many of the works in his shop, more like a museum of impressionism at the time than a paint supply store.
In winter 1886/87 van Gogh painted his first portrait of Tanguy. It is mostly brown, with a touch of red on his lips and a green on his apron. Writer Victoria Finlay describes him as looking more like a workman than an art dealer.
The second painting of Pere Tanguy by Vincent van Gogh (65 cm x 51 cm) (F364) was owned for a time by American actor Edward G. Robinson and his wife Gladys, a painter. They sold the piece to Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos.
Painting, Oil on Canvas
Paris: Winter, 1887-1888
Paris, France, Europe
F: 364, JH: 1352