Bridge in Venice


A bridge crosses a canal in Venice, Italy a thoroughfare for catholic schoolgirls and their nun guardians. Clad in matching uniform dresses and hats the girls cross in groups with umbrellas in hand. A few tourists mix in and a worker on a fishing rig maneuvers his way through the busy canal. Beautiful bougainvilla and yellow flowering trees spill from the balconies and window sills.


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Vincent Van Gogh enjoyed making Paintings of Children. He once said that it's the only thing that "excites me to the depths of my soul, and which makes me feel the infinite more than anything else." Painting children, in particular represented rebirth and the infinite. Over his career Van Gogh did not make many paintings of children, but those he completed were special to him. During the ten years of Van Gogh's career as a painter, from 1881 to 1890, his work changed and grew richer, particularly in how he used color and techniques symbolically or evocatively.

His early works were earth-toned and dull. After a transformative period in Paris, Van Gogh embarked on his most prolific periods starting in Arles, in the south of France and continuing until his final days in Auvers-sur-Oise. During those times his work became more colorful and more reflective of influences, such as Impressionism and Japonism. Japonism influences are understood in the painting of a young girl, La Mousmé. Among others, he was inspired by the work of Jean Francois Millet  which he emulated in First Steps and Evening: The Watch.

Van Gogh enjoyed painting portraits when he had available models. Possibly the greatest impact to his paintings of children came out of the friendship with Joseph Roulin and the many paintings of his family.

Van Gogh, known for his landscapes, seemed to find painting portraits his greatest ambition.  He said of portrait studies, "the only thing in painting that excites me to the depths of my soul, and which makes me feel the infinite more than anything else.

To his sister Van Gogh wrote, "I should like to paint portraits which appear after a century to people living then as apparitions. By which I mean that I do not endeavor to achieve this through photographic resemblance, but my means of our impassioned emotions -- that is to say using our knowledge and our modern taste for color as a means of arriving at the expression and the intensification of the character.

As much as Van Gogh liked to paint portraits of people, there were few opportunities for him to pay or arrange for models for his work. Van Gogh found a bounty in the work of the Roulin Family, for which he made several images of each person. In exchange, Van Gogh gave the Roulin's one painting for each family member.  

In the picture below Van Gogh painted a portrait of Camille Roulin in 1888. It is in the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam. Camille Roulin, the middle child, was born in Lambesc in southern France, on 10 July 1877, and died on 4 June 1922. When his father had to answer to letters, he served as his secretary. When his portrait was painted by Van Gogh, Camille was eleven years of age. The Van Gogh Museum painting shows Camille's head and shoulders.

Portrait of Camille Roulin
Artist Vincent Van Gogh
Year 1888
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 40.5 cm × 32.5 cm (15.9 in × 12.8 in)
Location Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Source: wikipedia
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