Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1989
Vincent van Gogh, (1853-1890)

New high-tech research shatters Van Gogh myths!

Vincent's Bedroom in Arles, 1888
Digital version shows what may be the original lilac walls.

Vincent's Bedroom in Arles, 1888
The painting as we know it with blue walls caused by faded red pigment.

Myth:  In Van Gogh’s beloved painting of his bedroom in Arles, France, the walls were originally painted blue.

Truth:  Not true!   Van Gogh originally painted the walls a pale lilac, not blue!  He experimented with new pigments.  These new pigments, particularly the color red, proved to be unstable and the red pigment disappeared after a short time.

Van Gogh mixed this new red pigment with blue to make lilac.  With time the red faded and left the blue. Hence, blue walls.

Why is this important?  Van Gogh was very precise about complementary colors (colors that go well together and are pleasing to the eye.)  The main color theme in the bedroom is yellow.  The complementary color of yellow is purple, not blue.  Van Gogh knew what he was doing!

Next time you see a Van Gogh and see the color blue…look closely…is there an abundance of yellow in the painting?  Solve the mystery yourself!

Myth:  Van Gogh was a manic, possibly slightly deranged man who just spontaneously threw paint at the canvas.

Truth:  He was a very experienced artist (he made 900 paintings in ten years) and doggedly honed his skills.  He created very deliberate compositions.

Myth:  Van Gogh cut off his whole ear.

Truth:  Not exactly. In a fit of madness Van Gogh only cut off a portion of his left ear lobe…not his entire ear as many believed.

Red Vineyard at Arles, 1888
Vincent van Gogh

Myth:  Van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime.

Truth:  Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime, Red Vineyard at Arles. This painting now resides at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

Sit back and marvel at the masterpieces of Vincent van Gogh.
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