“I have a model at last — a Zouave — he’s a lad with a small face, the neck of a bull, the eye of a tiger, and I started doing one portrait and started again on another.  The bust-length I painted of him was terribly hard. In a uniform the blue of blue enamel saucepans, with dull orange-red trimmings and two lemon-yellow stars on his chest, a common blue and very hard to do.  I’ve stuck his very tanned, feline head, wearing a bright red cap, in front of a door painted green and the orange bricks of a wall. So it’s a coarse combination of disparate tones that isn’t easy to handle — the study I did of it seems very hard to me, and yet I’d always like to work on portraits that are vulgar, even garish like that one.”

To Theo. Arles, Thursday, 21 June 1888

  “It teaches me, and that’s what I ask of my work above all. And now the second portrait will be seated; full length, against a white wall.”

To Theo. Arles, Thursday, 21 June 1888

What I’ve done is very ugly: a drawing of the Zouave, seated, a painted sketch of the Zouave against an all-white wall and lastly his portrait against a green door and some orange bricks of a wall. It’s harsh and, well, ugly and badly done. However, since that’s the real difficulty attacked, it may smooth the way in the future. The figures that I do are almost always detestable in my own eyes, and all the more so in others’ eyes”

To Emile Bernard. Arles, Tuesday, 26 June 1888

Sittings with the Zouave (probably introduced to Vincent by Milliet, the third regiment lieutenant Vincent knew) were done at the Yellow House on Rue De La Martine. image courtesy of:Pachango on Wikimedia Commons (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/WLANL_-_Pachango_-_De_Zouaaf,_Vincent_van_Gogh_(1888).jpg)
Painting, Oil on Canvas – 65 x 54 cm – Size 15 Figure Arles: June 20, 1888 Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe F: 423, JH: 1486