View of Paris from Vincent’s Room in the Rue Lepic

View of Paris from Vincent’s Room in the Rue Lepic

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Vincent lived with his brother in Montmartre at 54 Rue Lepic after June of 1886 until he departed for Arles in early 1888. Located above the city of Paris and on the third floor of the building, it afforded him a beautiful view of the Paris skyline, which he painted several times upon just moving in.   This painting and a similar one with different coloring show Vincent experimenting with color combinations and brushstroke as he applies what he and Seurat and Signac have learned about color theory.  He also sketches and draws the view on paper with pencil.

All were done in Spring of 1887 with this one having more blues.  Vincent has painted with Emile Bernard and Paul Signac on the banks of the Seine in Asnieres and is beginning to find the application of color and direction and thickness of brushstroke create varying effects.  Paul Gaugin and Toulouse Lautrec and Louis Anquetin are in the cafes and cabarets at night with Vincent and they and Signac and Bernard argue color theory and Japanese woodblock art and drink wine and absinthe in the smoky and bohemian atmosphere of 1880’s Montmartre.  The Eiffel Tower is beginning construction in advance of the world’s fair, but none of these post impressionists will stoop to paint the iron behemoth so exemplary of their caution about the advances of the industrial revolution.

A few words from a frustrated Vincent come from a letter penned a few weeks after creating these views from his window.  His argumentative and precise nature and strong will have made some rifts in the cafes with his friends as they all seek to lead the next wave of art to top impressionism. He yearns to sell his work and pay back his brother for supporting him and begins to speak more and more of moving to the south of France and capturing the light of the midi in a Japanese woodblock print manner.

“To succeed you have to have ambition, and ambition seems absurd to me. I don’t know what will come of it. Most of all, I’d like to be less of a burden to you — and that’s not impossible from now on. Because I hope to make progress in such a way that you’ll be able to show what I’m doing, with confidence, without compromising yourself.  And then I’m going to retreat to somewhere in the south so as not to see so many painters who repel me as men.”

To Theo. Paris, between about Saturday, 23 and about Monday, 25 July 1887Painting, Oil on Cardboard

Paris: Spring, 1887
Private collection
F: 341a, JH: 1243

Where Vincent Was:
Paris

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