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The bedroom in Arles
On the theme of his bedroom, Van Gogh makes three almost identical paintings. The first, preserved in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, was executed in October 1888 and deteriorated in a flood that occurred during the hospitalization of the painter in Arles. About a year later, he undertakes the realization of two copies: one, of the same size, is kept today at the Art Institute of Chicago; the other, that of the Musée d'Orsay, made for his family in the Netherlands, is smaller in size.
In a letter addressed to his brother Théo, Vincent explains what prompts him to paint a similar work: he wants to express the tranquility and highlight the simplicity of his bedroom through the symbolism of colors. To do this, he describes: "the pale lilac walls, the floor of a worn and dull red, the chairs and the yellow chrome bed, the pillows and the very pale lemon green sheet, the blood-red blanket, the orange toilet-table, the blue basin, the green window ", affirming:" I had wanted to express an absolute rest by means of all these diverse tones ".
Through these different shades, Van Gogh refers to Japan, its crepes and its prints. It is justified in this way: "The Japanese have lived in very simple interiors and that great artists have lived in this country."
Although, for the Japanese, a room decorated with paintings and furniture does not seem really simple, for Vincent it is "an empty bedroom with a wooden bed and two chairs." In spite of everything, it achieves a certain austerity, due to its composition constituted almost exclusively by straight lines and by the rigorous combination of colored surfaces that compensate for the instability of the perspective.