Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh

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Painting NamePortrait of Dr. Gachet
Painter NameVincent Van Gogh
Completion Date1890
Place of CreationFrance
Size67 cm × 56 cm (23.4 in × 22.0 in)
Current LocationPrivate collection

After his mental breakdown in December 1888, Vincent Van Gogh went under treatments at various clinics including a Hospital in Arles and the Asylum of Saint Remy. But, before his death he was taking aid under a physician Dr Paul Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise for which he moved near Paul Gachet’s in Auvers. It was sold for $ 82.5 million in 1990 equivalent around $ 140 million in today’s price-rate. Thus, it became the World’s Most Expensive Painting at the time and is still the highest price paid for art at a public auction.

Most of the final paintings by Van Gogh have become spectacularly precious and highly-wanted. As if people want to buy those paintings to collect the last memories of the artist.

His first impression of the doctor was not as enthusiastic as he described the doctor in his letter to his brother Theo in these words: “I think that we must not count on Dr. Gachet at all. First of all, he is sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much…”

Thought in the letter to his sister he said he had found a true friend in Dr Gachet as any person would admire another person with same characteristics. This closeness maybe had provoked the desire to illustrate him on his canvas.

Well, about this particular painting, it has total of three version- two oil paintings and one etching (the only etching Van Gogh produced). The represent one is the first version which prominently famous. At a glance, we could say that it is a very sad and despair looking portrayal, which van Gogh portrayed in a melancholy manner deliberately. From the burdened eyes to the tired hand supporting head, everything in this picture have a certain kind of heaviness which makes us feel heavy inside. The melancholy which artist deliberately tried to include is visible and also felt. Here, we are having a little glimpse of his gloomy mind during his last days because an artist depicts the world according to his own view of the world and his mindset about it.

Van Gogh’s objectives to create this painting are clearly resounded in his letter to Theo:

“I’ve done the portrait of M. Gachet with a melancholy expression, which might well seem like a grimace to those who see it… Sad but gentle, yet clear and intelligent, that is how many portraits ought to be done… There are modern heads that may be looked at for a long time, and that may perhaps be looked back on with longing a hundred years later.”


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