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Eugène Boch

Van Gogh meets the Belgian painter Eugène Boch (1855-1941) towards the middle of June 1888, when he makes a stay of a few weeks in a town near Arles. Towards the 8 of July, Vincent evokes to Boch in a letter to his brother Theo: "He is a boy whose outside I like a lot, sharp face, green eyes with something of distinction".

On August 11, an idea arises in his mind: "I would like to make the portrait of an artist friend, who has great dreams, who works as a nightingale sings because it is his nature, this man will be blond. I appreciate, my love for him, so I will paint it as it is, as faithfully as I can [...] Behind the head, instead of painting the banal wall of the miserable apartment, I paint the infinite, I make a simple background of the richer blue, the more intense I can make, and through this simple combination the blond head illuminated on this intense blue background, you get a mysterious effect like the star in the deep blue sky ".

Two weeks later, Boch poses for Van Gogh. "Well, thanks to him, I have at last the first sketch of this painting, of which I have been dreaming for a long time - The Poet, he has placed it in. His fine head with green eyes stands out in my portrait on a deep oversea starry sky, the clothing is a small yellow jacket, a collar of raw cloth, a motley tie ".

Although I only considered it as a "sketch", Van Gogh frames this work titled "Poet". It is known that this was for a time hung on the wall of his room in the Yellow House, as it appears in the first version of the bedroom (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum).