Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) painted his Portrait of a P easant (Patience Escalier) in August 1888 during a highly productive f ifteen-month stay in Arles in southern France. The opportunity to display t his work in New York is the result of a special exchange program between th e Norton Simon Museum\, Pasadena\, and The Frick Collection and marks the f irst time in forty years that the painting has left its home institution.\n

From the early years of his career in the Netherlands\, van Gogh tho ught of himself as a “peasant painter.” With his many images of rural labor ers in dark\, earthen tones\, he sought to dignify their modest lives and t o associate himself with a long tradition of peasant depictions that stretc hed from the Old Masters to the nineteenth-century French artist Jean-Franç ois Millet. Following a two-year period in Paris\, where he adopted the bri ght palette and rapid\, visible brushwork of the Impressionists\, van Gogh left for Arles. He envisioned the Provençal city as an exotic place—in his words\, a “Japan in France.” Enraptured by the vivid colors and limpid ligh t of the south\, he painted brilliantly colored landscapes in and around Ar les. His deeper interest\, however\, lay in portraiture\, and he set out to paint a series of distinctive types of the region. His portrait of Patienc e Escalier\, a gardener and former oxherd from the marshlands of the nearby Camargue\, brought him back to his early interest in rural laborers. In th is work\, color and emphatic brushwork take on greater importance.


In Arles Vincent turned away from the lessons of Impressionism in pursuit o f more forceful expression in his paintings. In his Portrait of a Peasa nt he exploits the power of contrasting colors and the tactility of pa int to capture the essential qualities of the man and his environment. Van Gogh depicts his rustic subject in the sun-drenched colors of Provence at t he height of summer. The brilliant yellow straw hat brings to mind the blaz ing sun\; the vivid blue background the midday sky\; and the cool green jac ket the lush vegetation. The ridges and hollows and burnt golden color of t he man’s weathered face recall the scorched earth\, evoking\, in Vincent’s own words\, “the very furnace of harvest time\, deep in the south."

\nAn introductory video will present the results of new research and a com prehensive technical examination of the painting. The van Gogh presentation is coordinated by Susan Grace Galassi\, Senior Curator of The Frick Collec tion. LOCATION:The Frick Collection\,1 East 70th Street \nNew York\, NY 10021 SUMMARY: Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)\, Vincent Van Gogh END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR