In one of his profound mental crises, the painterVincent Van Goghwas taken in and cared for byDr. Paul Gachet, who was also a great art lover. And in the case of Van Gogh, he was convinced that the fact that working on his paintings could become something really therapeutic and good for his psychological he alth. Although the truth is that he did not manage to cure the great artist, and a few months after his stay with this psychiatrist and homeopath, Van Gogh would put an end to his life.
Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Paul Gachet
But before that he went to see this doctor, who has also gone down in art history for protecting other great painters like Camille Pissarro or Paul Cezanne, and even for buying works from them. Something he didn't do with Van Gogh.
When Van Gogh met him, it was the year 1890, and there, in the French town of Auvers sur Oise, and in just one month the painter made several portraits of him to the doctor, two oil paintings and an engraving. Of these, perhaps the most personal is the first, since we see the doctor in a very relaxed pose, although as usual in the paintings of the artist of Dutch origin, there is always a certain tension. Although it is true that both works have many points in common.
The most remarkable thing is surely that pose of absolute relaxation, although at the same time with a tone of sadness, just asdefined the post-impressionist painter himself in one of his famous letters.
Pictorically it is a work with many interesting elements. For example, it arranges the figure in a composition that runs along a diagonal, placing it in a foreshortened perspective that helps us, the viewers, to be somehow participants in the scene.
And its colors also deserve a comment, especially for that intense blue background in the upper part, which undoubtedly contrasts with the vividness of the red tone of the table, on which the character leans and reclines. Something that is especially striking in the second of the portraits.
Second portrait of Dr. Gachet by Van Gogh
These two works are made in oil on canvas, and have identical dimensions (68 x 57 cm) but currently cannot be seen together, since the second of these portraits is exhibited in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, while the former is owned by a private Japanese collector, who acquired it in 1990, paying then a record amount for a work of art, more than 80 million dollars.