". . . I have made portraits of a whole family, that of the postman whose head I had done previously--the man, his wife, the baby, the little boy, and the son of sixteen, all characters and very French, though the first has the look of a Russian."
Vincent van Gogh
I've had an interest in the Roulin family for a long while now. Vincent van Gogh's time in Arles, France was a pivotal point in his life. After years of study and struggle Vincent moved to the south in an attempt to further explore his art. Many of Van Gogh's most renowned works originated in Arles.
And yet, at the period in which Vincent was at his most productive, he was alone. Called "fou-rou" (crazy red-head) by many of the townspeople of Arles, Vincent was often viewed with suspicion and scorn. A number of Vincent's letters to his brother, Theo, reflect his isolation and his loneliness.
And yet one family welcomed Vincent and encouraged his work. In many respects, the Roulin family were Vincent's only friends in Arles. Always challenged to find willing subjects for his portraits, Vincent found the Roulins to be extremely accommodating and patient. In total, Van Gogh painted or sketched 25 works of the Roulin family--each of which is listed below. Thanks to the old postman, Joseph Roulin, and his family--to their kindness toward this eccentric and troubled painter--Vincent was able to produce some of his best loved works.
I'd like this section to not only serve as an amalgamated listing of the Roulin portraits, but I also hope to create a more in-depth exploration of this family. Information about the Roulins isn't easy to come by (the article below is more than 45 years old), but I'm always looking for more background material.
Many thanks to Enrique Pareja and his wife for their hard work in providing the English and Spanish versions. Sincere thanks, too, to Timothy Baikie for his exhaustive revisions of the English version.
Anyone with an interest in Vincent van Gogh and a love of his works truly owes a debt of gratitude to "la famille Roulin" of Arles, France.
|Baby Marcelle Roulin, The||Arles||December, 1888||Vaduz (Liechtenstein), Fondation Socindec||441a||1640|
|Baby Marcelle Roulin, The||Arles||December, 1888||Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art||440||1639|
|Baby Marcelle Roulin, The||Arles||December, 1888||Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum||441||1641|
|Joseph Roulin, Sitting in a Cane Chair, Three-Quarter-Length (drawing)||Arles||31 July-3 August, 1888||New York, private collection||1723||1523|
|Joseph Roulin, Three-Quarter-Length (drawing)||Arles||4-8 August 1888||Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. George Gard de Sylva Collection||1459||1547|
|La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin)||Arles||March, 1889||Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum||507||1672|
|La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin)||Arles||February, 1889||Boston, Museum of Fine Arts||508||1671|
|La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin)||Arles||January, 1889||Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago||506||1670|
|La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin)||Arles||December, 1888||Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum||504||1655|
|La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin)||Arles||January, 1889||New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art||505||1669|
|Mother Roulin with Her Baby||Arles||November-December, 1888||New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art||491||1638|
|Mother Roulin with Her Baby||Arles||November-December, 1888||Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art||490||1637|
|Portrait of Armand Roulin||Arles||November-December, 1888||Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen||493||1643|
|Portrait of Armand Roulin||Arles||November-December, 1888||Essen, Museum Folkwang||492||1642|
|Portrait of Camille Roulin||Arles||November-December, 1888||Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art||537||1644|
|Portrait of Camille Roulin||Arles||November-December, 1888||Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum||538||1645|
|Portrait of Madame Augustine Roulin||Arles||November-December, 1888||Winterthur, Collection Oskar Reinhart||503||1646|
|Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin||Arles||Early August, 1888||Boston, Museum of Fine Arts||432||1522|
|Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin||Arles||Early August, 1888||Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts||433||1524|
|Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin (drawing)||Arles||August, 1888||Malibu (Cal.), J. Paul Getty Museum||1458||1536|
|Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin||Arles||April, 1889||Merion Station (Pa.), Barnes Foundation||435||1674|
|Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin||Arles||April, 1889||New York, Museum of Modern Art||436||1675|
|Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin||Arles||April, 1889||Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum||439||1673|
|Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin||Arles||November-December, 1888||Winterthur, Kunstmuseum Winterthur||434||1647|
|Schoolboy (Camille Roulin), The||Arles||Early December, 1888||Sao Paulo, Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo||665||1879|