There aren't all too many known depictions of the Post-Impressionist known as Vincent Van Gogh, aside from the artist's own self-portraits. Thus, a recently discovered sketch of the mercurial Dutch artist is quite the find for Van Gogh devotees.
And, in case you were wondering, the black-and-white depiction, discovered in a 130-year-old sketchbook, renders Vincent with both of his ears in tact.
The image depicts Van Gogh in a cafe, sandwiched between bottles of wine and two women thought to be sex workers, providing a glimpse into Van Gogh's rumored struggles with alcohol and women. "I’m better than in Paris," Van Gogh once wrote to his brother Theo, "and if my stomach has become terribly weak that’s a problem I picked up there, probably due mainly to the bad wine, of which I drank too much." The rawness of the drawing suggests the work was made spontaneously, perhaps while the two friends were out.
The rare portrait is the work of French artist Emile Bernard, a close friend of Van Gogh's. It was found in a sketchbook containing 858 of Bernard's drawings, created approximately around 1887. The book has been in the possession of the Kunsthalle Bremen museum in Germany for over 40 years; however, the book hasn't been extensively examined until recently. It was only during research for a Bernard-centric exhibition at the museum that curator Dr. Dorothee Hansen took a closer look at the rare sketch.
"I didn't recognize it as Van Gogh at first, there was no inscription on it," Hansen explained to The Telegraph. "I looked into persons who Bernard was working with or was friends with at that time and looked at the sketch again and again and suspected it might be Van Gogh. I studied some self-portraits of Van Gogh of this period and it was very convincing. It is my opinion that it is Van Gogh and I think I am correct."
The drawing is one of the view representations of Van Gogh created by other artists in existence, along with works by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, John Russell, Lucien Pissarro, Horace Livens and Archibald Hartrick.The piece will be shown for the first time in the exhibition "Emile Bernard: On the Pulse of Modernity" at the Kunsthalle Bremen. The unveiling will coincide with what would have been Van Gogh's 162nd birthday.
For more facts you may not have known about dear Vincent, check out our short list of bizarre Van Gogh trivia here.