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Portrait of Armand Roulin
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During his time in Arles, Vincent van Gogh befriended the Roulin family.

The Roulin family were subjects of van Gogh’s art 25 times. This young, dapper-looking member of the family is Armand-Joseph-Desireé Roulin, who looks particularly melancholic here. Who can blame the kid? It's outrageously boring to sit for a painting. I mean, honestly, he must have had better things to do than hang out for hours with an artist who can’t sell any paintings. Like growing out his mustache.

Armand Roulin would be painted twice by van Gogh, both times in his black hat. Armand was rewarded for his patience with a copy of his portrait, also painted by van Gogh. Van Gogh did this for all of the Roulin family portraits. These copies hung in the Roulin household until they were sold to the Parisian dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1895. It’s believed this copy of Portrait of Armand Roulin was sent over to Vincent’s brother, Theo, along with a batch of others in May 1889.

At the time, Vincent was living in the Yellow House. Armand’s family lived only a block away, in a government building positioned close to the railroad bridges. His father, Joseph, was a postman and the initial link between van Gogh and Armand. Armand, the eldest son, wasn’t living at home when van Gogh painted him. The seventeen-year old resided in Lambesc, apprenticing as a blacksmith. Lambesc was Armand’s birthplace, as it was the birthplace to the rest of his family, including his father and mother Augustine. Long after the death of van Gogh, Armand would take up a position in Tunisia as an officier de paix. Armand lived a long life, dying at the age of 74, at the end of the Second World War.

Armand’s impact on art continues long after his death. His character starred in the film Loving Vincent (2017). In the film he is tasked to deliver one last letter to Vincent’s brother, Theo.

Sources

Sources

  1. Gayford, Martin, The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence, New York: Houghton Mifflin Books, 2006.
  2. Mansky, Jackie, “How the Creators of Loving Vincent Brought the First Fully Animated Film to Life,” Smithsonian Mag, February 20, 2018. Accessed November 12, 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-creators-loving-vincent-...
  3. Pickvance, Ronald, Van Gogh in Arles, New York: Harry N. Abrams, INC., Published, 1984.
  4. Rathbone, Eliza, Elizabeth, Steele, Robinson, William H., Steele, Marcia, Van Gogh Repetitions, Yale University Press, 2003.
  5. Smith, Gregory White, Naifeh, Steven, Van Gogh, London: Profile Books, 2011.
  6. Waters, Katherine, “Van gogh’s Inner Circle, Noordbrabants Museum review – the man behind the art,” The Arts Desk, September 26, 2019. Accessed November 12, 2019. https://theartsdesk.com/visual-arts/van-gogh’s-inner-circle-noor...