|Skull with Burning Cigarette|
Oil on canvas
32.0 x 24.5 cm.
Antwerp: Winter, 1885/86
F 212, JH 999
Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum
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No doubt one of Van Gogh's most macabre works, Skull with Burning Cigarette is probably the most distinguished of his paintings from the Antwerp period.
It's likely that the work was painted from a skeleton in an anatomy class while Vincent was studying art. A sketch, Hanging Skeleton and Cat, from the same period would appear to confirm this. The work--a stark momento mori--was produced in a time when Van Gogh's health was poor (due to stomach ailments and rotting teeth) and may reflect Vincent's own concerns about his state of well-being. Some interpret the work as being a statement of defiance against Vincent's faltering health.
This disturbing painting may have been influenced by the similar macabre works produced by the Belgian artist Félicien Rops. It's known that Vincent owned a copy of Rops' Uilenspiegel, a satirical arts journal and the work of Rops (shown at right), The Husbands' Train: The Death of the Sinner, suggests a clear influence on Vincent's own two skull and skeleton works cited here.
Van Gogh may also have been influenced by one of his own countrymen, the 17th century Dutch artist, Hercules Segers, who also produced a disturbing work of a skull. It remains uncertain whether Van Gogh was aware of Segers' works, but he did, of course, have a thorough knowledge of Dutch painters throughout the 17th to 19th centuries.
|Theo van Gogh||Paris||France||1890-91||
|Johanna van Gogh-Bonger||Amsterdam||Netherlands||1891-1925||
|V.W. van Gogh||Laren||Netherlands||1925-62||
|Van Gogh Foundation||Amsterdam||Netherlands||1962||On loan to the Stedelijk Museum 1962-73.|
|Van Gogh Museum||Amsterdam||Netherlands||1973||On permanent loan from the Vincent van Gogh Foundation.|
|Year||City||Country||Venue||Exhibition Name||Start Date||End Date||No.|
|1910||Berlin (1)||Germany||Paul Cassirer||Ausstellung Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890||25 October 1910||20 November 1910||3|
|1953||Saint Louis||United States||City Art Museum of Saint Louis||Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890||17 October 1953||13 December 1953||53|
|1954||Toledo||United States||Toledo Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890||7 March 1953||30 April 1953||53|
|1954||Philadelphia||United States||Philadelphia Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890||2 January 1954||28 February 1954||53|
|1955||Antwerp (1)||Belgium||Feestzaal||Vincent van Gogh||7 May 1955||19 June 1955||125|
|1967||Wolfsburg||Germany||Stadhalle Wolfsburg||Vincent van Gogh. Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen||18 February 1967||2 April 1967||17|
|1968-69||London||United Kingdom||Hayward Gallery||Vincent van Gogh. Paintings and Drawings of the Vincent van Gogh Foundation Amsterdam||23 October 1968||12 January 1969||58|
|1980||Mons||Belgium||Musée des Beaux-Arts||Van Gogh et la Belgique||3 October 1980||30 November 1980||
|1994||Tokyo (1)||Japan||Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh and his Time. Van Gogh and Portraits from the Van Gogh Museum and the H.W. Mesdag Museum||14 September 1994||13 November 1994||2|
|1998-99||Washington, D.C.||United States||National Gallery of Art||Van Gogh's Van Goghs. Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam||4 October 1998||3 January 1999||14|
|1999||Los Angeles||United States||Los Angeles County Museum of Art||Van Gogh's Van Goghs. Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam||17 January 1999||16 May 1999||14|
|2003||Amsterdam (2)||Netherlands||Van Gogh Museum||Gogh Modern||27 June 2003||12 October 2003||---|
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