Monday, August 16, 2010


Vincent Van Gogh Fauteuil de Gauguin Amsterdam

When I was at the Musée Estrine in St Rémy de Provence, one of my favorite themes and hobbyhorse of late, came trotting back with the presentation of these two familiar subjects painted by Vincent van Gogh. The chairs were described as a diptych calling to mind and symbolizing the people who used them and so demonstrate quite nicely the overflow of the animate to the inanimate that we feel at times.

Vincent's own chair,  British Museum London

Vincent van Gogh, you may know, spent several years in St Rémy, some of them 1889-90 in the sanitarium of  St Paul de Mausole. The museum, which calls itself a 'center of interpretation' for the works of Van Gogh, explains that the artist must have been aware of the popular metaphor which has it that an empty chair symbolizes its owner.

The Empty Chair by Sir Samuel Fildes

It's not surprising that Vincent would have used the chairs in this way to represent himself and his friend Gauguin. Searching further, I  found  it interesting that Van Gogh was in posession of a copy of this Fildes' engraving which represents Charles Dickens. Fildes was busy working on illustrations for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, when Dickens died suddenly. Struck by aura of his study when visiting  the author's bereft family, he recorded it as a watercolor, often reproduced through engraving as here.

A stand-in.

sources: L'Ocre Bleu,Victorian Web


  1. My current favorite chair belonged to my husband's grandmother. We're about the same height so the proportions fit. When she came to me in 1975, she was upholstered in mauve. Since she has become mine, she has been wearing a small red plaid. Over the years there have been many pillows to adorn this chair. The current one is a fabric that looks like a rug remnant. With a good reading lamp at one side and a table covered in books, it's quite the ideal space to spend comfortable time reading. BTW, reading was Minnie's (the original owner) favorite past time as well.

  2. hmmm what an interesting connection - from v. gogh to dickens (or vice versa). lovely pics of the south, i'll come back to them again and again i suspect. et bravo! et oui! croque la vie! and welcome back.....

  3. HbD Good for your Reading Chair that she has remained just that, with a fashion makeover-- any other post in the house might have felt like a demotion! I wonder which are her favorite stories...

    Mlle, I've appreciated your travel pics too. Will go back to understand your connections...we're all out for a piece of Paradis.