|Courtesy of www.VincentVanGogh.org|
Van Gogh painted two versions of this picture, this one and one that hangs at the Musee d'Orsag in Paris. This is the more highly finished of the two and was pointed using thick paint and very precise outlines. It is strongly
reminiscent of the work of Gauguin at this time, and it was during Gauguin's stag with Van Gogh that he produced this painting.
Van Gogh was experimenting with flat areas of bold colour clearly defined by sharp outline, which was in contrast to his often more highly expressive brushwork. Here he has been less concerned with the depiction of texture, and more concerned with the effect of shape and colour. The intensity of the yellow background illuminates the figure, whose skin is of a similar though reduced tone, a technique that he used often. He has concentrated his colours to primarily yellow, blue, green and the vibrant red of the books, which are wonderfully dog-eared. The painting, which was of the proprietress of Van Gogh's local cafe, was executed quickly, and unfortunately, this speed has led to the cracking and deterioration of the paint surface.