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Portrait of Madame Augustine Roulin and Baby Marcelle

1888
Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890)

In early December 1888, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo from Arles: "I’ve done the portraits of an entire family, the family of the postman whose head I did before—the man, his wife, the baby, the young boy, and the sixteen-year-old son, all characters and very French." Van Gogh painted several pictures of Madame Roulin, the postman’s wife. In this one, she holds the couple’s daughter, Marcelle, who was born in July 1888. With a relaxed pose and her face in shadow, Madame Roulin is a passive figure, while the baby, whose chubby face looks outward, is the more active and central subject.

Van Gogh’s work with color is one of the most dramatic aspects of the series; each family member is distinguished by bold primary colors. Here, mother and child are painted in green and white with blue outlines and a yellow ground that reinforces their closeness.

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Object Details

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