Dispatches from the Conservation Studio

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The Colors of Van Gogh’s “Mother”

The Colors of Van Gogh’s “Mother”

So what’s the deal with Van Gogh’s portrait of his mother? Why does she look so sickly green and yellow? (Don’t get me wrong—this has always been one of my favorite paintings in the Norton Simon collection.) The label text states that the reds he used have faded. But, how did he use red? Mixed with other pigments? As a thin glaze on the surface? When did the reds fade? Did he know, and was he concerned?

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