Last Saturday afternoon Stuart and I went to The Courtauld Institute of Art at the glitzy Somerset House to see the Van Gogh Self Portraits exhibition. And we agreed with the critics - who simply loved it - in that we simply loved it too.
“An exhibition of electrifying intimacy.”
“A landmark exhibition.” “Sensational.”
“An unprecedented and not-to-be-missed show.”
“Van Gogh’s art at its rawest and most intimate.”
“That search “deep in the soul” for an original form of expression, is abundant in this extraordinary show.”
Taking as its springboard Van Gogh’s iconic Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, one of the most celebrated works in The Courtauld’s collection, the exhibition brings together around half of the self-portraits Van Gogh created during his short years as a painter.
This is the first time that the full span of Van Gogh’s self-portraiture has been explored in an exhibition. Several works in the exhibition were last together in Van Gogh’s studio and have never been reunited, until now.
There is an outstanding selection of 16 self-portraits tracing the evolution of Van Gogh’s self representation, from his early Self-Portrait with a Dark Felt Hat, created in 1886 during his formative period in Paris, to Self-Portrait with a Palette, painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in September 1889, one of his last self-portraits before his death in 1890.
The myth of Van Gogh today is linked as much to his extraordinary life as it is to his stunning paintings. This exhibition allows both aspects to be explored.