Portrait of the Artist's Mother
October 1888
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
On View

In September 1888, Van Gogh, living in the south of France, received from his sister Wilhelmina, still in the Netherlands, a photograph of their mother. He set out to make a painting after it, explaining, “I’m working on a portrait of Mother for myself, because the black-and-white photograph annoys me so.” Although he had hoped to enliven the sitter’s face with color, the resulting portrait is somewhat pale and sickly in tone. This has partly to do with the specific pigments Van Gogh used (his reds have faded with time), but the artist also confessed his dissatisfaction with the work, writing to his sister, “I don’t like Mother’s picture enormously.”

Details

  • Artist Name: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
  • Title: Portrait of the Artist's Mother
  • Date: October 1888
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 16 x 12-3/4 in. (40.6 x 32.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1968.32.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

[Ambroise Vollard, Paris].
Ann Rosenberg, Paris.
E. Druet, Paris, sold October 1904 to;
[Paul Cassirer, Berlin, sold May 1905 to];
Carl Moll (1861-1945), Vienna, until at least 1914.
[Paul Rosenberg, Paris, by 1928, still in 1937].
Reverend Theodore Pitcairn, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, by 1938 (sale, London, Christie’s, 28 June 1968, lot 112, to);
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Vincent van Gogh

  • Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, 1901-03-15 to 1901-03-31

Vincent van Gogh

  • Paul Cassirer (Gallery), 1914-05 to 1914-06

Die führenden Meister der französischen Kunst im XIX Jahrhundert

  • Vienna, Secession, 1925 to

[on loan]

  • Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 1926 to

The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh, Loan Exhibition in Aid of American and Dutch War Relief

  • Wildenstein & Co. (New York, N.Y.), 1943-10-06 to 1943-11-07

Vincent van Gogh

  • Munich, Haus der Kunst, 1956-10 to 1956-12

The Pitcairn Collection

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1960 to

Recent acquisitions by the Norton Simon Museum of Art

  • Portland, The Portland Art Museum, 1968-11-12 to 1969-03-09

[on loan]

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1972 to

Les maîtres de l'art indépendant 1895-1937

  • Paris, Petit Palais, 1937-06 to 1937-10

Vincent van Gogh: Painter, Printmaker, Collector

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1990-04-19 to 1992-01-12

Excellence: Art from the University Community

  • University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, 1970-11-06 to 1971-01-09

Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1972-12-03 to 1974-07-17

Gaze: Portraiture After Ingres

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2009-10-30 to 2010-04-05

Reinstallation of South Wing

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-10-07 to 1995-08-13

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and The Norton Simon Foundation_1

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1973-05-03 to 1976-06-15
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  • Scherjon, W.; and Jos de Gruyter, Vincent van Gogh's Great Period, 1937, no. 104 p. 133
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  • Sutton, Peter C., A Guide to Dutch Art in America, 1986, fig. 320 p. 220
  • Abse, D. and J., Voices in the Gallery, 1986, pp. 98-99
  • Feilchenfeldt, Walter, Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin: The Reception of van Gogh in Germany from 1901-1914, 1988, no. F 447 pp. 19, 98
  • Wilson, P., The Christian Science Monitor, 1988, p. 20
  • Crosman, C., The Artist's Mother: Portraits & Homages, 1988, p. 21
  • Gedo, J., Portraits of the Artist, 1989, pp. 136-137
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 165
  • van Lindert, J.; and E. van Uitert, Vincent van Gogh en zijn portretten, 1990, fig. 67 p. 83
  • Arnold, M., Vincent van Gogh: Werk und Wirkung, 1995, fig. 70 pp. 152-154, 865
  • Sachs, Katherine, Van Gogh Face to Face: The Portraits, 2000, fig. 118 pp. 130-131
  • Druick, Douglas and Peter Zegers, Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South, 2001, fig. 62 pp. 200 - 203
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  • Brooker, Suzanne, Portrait Painting: Old Master Techniques and Contemporary Applications, 2009, p. 14
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 499 p. 305
  • Naifeh, Stephen and Gregory Smith, Van Gogh: The Life, 2011,
  • Homburg, Cornelia et al., Van Gogh: Up Close, 2012, Fig. 131 p. 179
  • Lord Hindlip, An Auctioneer's Lot, Triumphs and Disasters at Christie's and Beyond, 2016, p. 61 ; p. 61 (ill.)
  • Ian Blanc, Van Gogh, 2017, fig. 199 p. 215 (ill.)
  • Vasseur, Yves, Vincent van Gogh: Matters of Identity, 2020, fig. 3.1 p. 47 ; p. 46 (ill.)
  • Le Figaro, Figaro Hors-Série: Van Gogh, La symphonie de l'adieu, 2023, p. 24, p. 25 (ill.)
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Autograph Letter from Auvers-Sur-Oise to the Ginoux Family in Arles Vincent van Gogh c. June 11, 1890
Back Garden of Sien's Mother's House, the Hague Vincent van Gogh 1882
Head of a Peasant Woman in a White Bonnet Vincent van Gogh 1885

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