DETROIT — The Detroit Institute of Arts is bringing one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris to its gallery walls. Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles will be on view Feb. 19 to May 28 in the Dutch galleries, where visitors saw the Vermeer painting last August. The painting will be installed along with three other Van Gogh paintings owned by the DIA. The display is supported by Talmer Bank.
Van Gogh produced three almost identical paintings on the theme of his bedroom. The first, in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, was created in October 1888. It was damaged during a flood that occurred while the painter was in the hospital in Arles. Almost a year later, Van Gogh made two copies of it: one, the same size, is now in the Art Institute of Chicago; the other, in the Musée d’Orsay, produced for his family in Holland, is smaller.
In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent explained what inspired him to paint such a picture: he wanted to express the tranquility and simplicity of his bedroom using the symbolism of colors. He wrote: “the pale, lilac walls, the uneven, faded red of the floor, the chrome-yellow chairs and bed, the pillows and sheet in very pale lime green, the blood-red blanket, the orange-colored wash stand, the blue wash basin, and the green window…I wanted to express absolute repose with these different colors.”
Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles will anchor three of the DIA’s Van Gogh paintings: The Diggers, an interpretation of a painting by Jean-François Millet (The Diggers) that appears to have been painted at the same time as this version of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles. He was then at the asylum of Saint Remy de Provence and was making copies of works by other artists and re-evaluating his own work; The Portrait of the Postman Roulin, painted in Van Gogh’s house at Arles; and Self-Portrait, painted just before he moved to Arles to become a “peasant painter” and found a community of artists.