Sotheby’s to Offer Rare Van Gogh Painting in Paris

In May 1890, Van Gogh moved to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, after suffering a breakdown the previous year. At the time, he was plagued by hallucinations and anxiety attacks and was still recuperating from the physical violence that gauged his ear. The asylum was a relatively peaceful haven, and Van Gogh had access to a garden where he could paint. He also spent time copying works by other artists in the asylum’s collection.

One of the paintings Van Gogh made while at the asylum was of his own bedroom at Arles. He had lived there briefly in 1888 and 1889, and the happy memories of that time informed his depiction of the space. The painting is notable for its intense and bright colors, which were applied with thick brushstrokes. It is an early example of Van Gogh’s use of what he called “squeeze tubes,” a new type of paint tube that allowed for more expressive painting.

“The Bedroom” was one of several paintings Van Gogh sent to his brother Theo in 1890. Theo was living in Paris at the time and working as an art dealer, and he often served as a sounding board for his brother’s work. The painting was well received by Theo, who hung it in his own bedroom, and it also found admirers in the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel and the artist Émile Bernard.