The Only Letter By Van Gogh & Gauguin Detailing Visits To Brothels And A Friendship That Cost An Ear

Hanima Anand |Jun 18, 2020

This is a very special Van Gogh letter when it’s jointly written by the French artist Paul Gauguin. The letter also details the pair’s visits to brothels together.

Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin letter to Emile Bernard

On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, the letter by two famous artistic figures was auctioned for $237,000 in Paris. It was written to their fellow painter Emile Bernard in November 1888.

Some of Van Gogh’s famous works were created in the same year, namely Bedroom in Arles, Van Gogh’s Chair, The Night Café or Sunflowers series.

Van Gogh And Paul Gauguin
Picture of Van Gogh painting sunflowers by Paul Gauguin.

Van Gogh stayed in Arles city in France from February, 1888. He met the French artist Paul Gauguin, who later became his companion in Arles, in 1886 in Paris.

In the letter to Emile Bernard, Van Gogh shared some of his thoughts about Paul Gauguin when the pair visited brothels in the city before mentioning their painting trips.

In Van Gogh’s impressions, Paul Gauguin was an “unspoiled creature with the instinct of a wild beast.” To this French artist, “blood and sex have the edge over ambition.”

Van Gogh And Paul Gauguin Letter
The letter co-written by Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin

The Dutch talent also said that he and Gauguin usually visited brothels as if they went there to work. He revealed to Emile that Gauguin was working on a canvas with figures from the brothels. And it was a beautiful thing, according to Van Gogh.

Finally, Van Gogh shared about his intention of setting up an artists’ association which was continued by Paul Gauguin’s handwriting. “Don’t listen to Vincent.” Gauguin said Van Gogh “prone to admire and ditto to be indulgent.”

This letter is the only known co-written between Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin among over 900 letters by or to Van Gogh remaining till date.

About Vincent Van Gogh & his friendship with Paul Gauguin

Vincent Willem Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Zundert, Netherlands. He died in 1890 when he was only 37 years old in France.

Van Gogh was one of the most famous artists of all time, who followed Post-Impressionist painting. During 10 years of working, Van Gogh left behind an impressive number of 2,100 artworks in total, most of which were created in his last two years.

Van Gogh And Paul Gauguin 2
Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin relationship is a rare friendship of both support and rivalry.

Portraits, landscapes and still lifes are his typical works with amazing brushwork techniques that even modern artists can’t keep up with.

His most famous works include Sorrow, The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, Bedroom in Arles, The Starry Night, Portrait of Dr. Gachet and Wheatfield with Crows.

Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin relationship is an interesting topic that made headlines for years. They were a special pair when not only supporting each other but also being rivals on art battlefield. To Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin was a true mentor who gave useful advice to improve his painting technique.

Van Gogh The Night Cafe
Van Gogh's painting The Night Cafe

Paul Gauguin also considered himself Van Gogh’s mentor but sometimes he took it too far by falsifying the date of Van Gogh’s painting so that it looked like the work was made after Van Gogh lived with Gauguin.

After some time they stayed with each other in Arles, the difference burst out when the two adopted distinctive approaches in painting. While Van Gogh couldn’t accept Gauguin’s calculated acts, Paul Gauguin was shocked at the mess Van Gogh was living in.

Paul Gauguin The Night Cafe
The same Night Cafe through the eyes and hands of Paul Gauguin.

In the end, the two went in separate ways and Van Gogh cut his ear.

No one has the right to judge Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin relationship at that time. The only fact we should know and respect is that they were both talented artists of history.

>>> Read more on Starbiz: Funny Modern Versions Of Famous Classic Paintings

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