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June 9, 2024

Rare Photograph of Vincent van Gogh in Conversation With Friends in Paris, 1887

This potential van Gogh photo was taken in Paris by Jules Antoine, an architect and amateur photographer, in December 1887, and is a melainotype, or tintype, image. Believed to be joining Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Émile Bernard, at the table are Dutch artist Arnold Koning, politician Félix Jobbé-Duval, and Jules’ brother André Antoine, who founded the Théâtre-Libre in Paris.

Thought to be Vincent van Gogh (third from the left, with pipe) in conversation with Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, Félix Jobbé-Duval in Paris, 1887. André Antoine is standing between them.

Andre Antoine is standing between them, Paul Gauguin (at the far right) and Emile Bernard (second from the left) are dressed in a very similar way, wearing spectacular “Bragou Berr,” specific traditional trousers from Pont-Aven region. And the older man bearing a Legion d’honneur is Felix Jobbe-Duval who praised Pont-Aven to his friends. The young man behind Émile Bernard with a dutch casquette could be identified with Arnold Koning.

The location, identified as the backyard of Auberge Blanche, 96 rue Blanche, was also the access to the “Salle de repetition du Theâtre-Libre,” an independent space near Place de Clichy which had been proposed by Andre Antoine as a free exhibition hall to young artists, through a call in a libertarian and socialist newspaper Le Cri du Peuple. 96 rue Blanche is the place that hosted the famous but little documented exhibition which combined Seurat Signac and van Gogh, provoking a dispute between him and Bernard.

This image not only shows us for the first time the face of Vincent Van Gogh as an adult, it also captures the moment of 1887, in which a group of artists revolutionized the arts.


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