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.”


  • 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.

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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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