Describing Van Gogh’s Bedroom

In those days, Van Gogh did not expect to earn much as an artist. Besides having proven skill in oil painting of his self-portrait, there were still many viewers whom did not commissioned him to paint. Most of his finished paintings were returned to his brother Theo in Paris. Living apart from his family members, Van Gogh wanted a simple life, without any luxury of owning expensive items. Best examples shown in one of his oil paintings work, Van Gogh’s bedroom. He painted this when he was living in Arlse, a town in Provence in the south of France, October 1888.

At first glance, you can tell its simplicity and straightforwardness of every objects displayed in the bedroom. Not even the simplest technology that exists. No gramophone and no clock, perhaps only a small light bulb on the ceiling that was not included in the painting. Its a small room, where most would not want to live in. Despite being dull for an interior design like this, Van Gogh has painted his bedroom with lots of bright colors and great contrast, yet without subtlety of tones. By examine closer, you will see his thick oil paint and brushstrokes are laid on top of each colored surface. It creates vibrancy, textures, and bold used of colors on simple items. It is also one of his characteristics in all his painting artwork, namely, his impasto technique.

Being poor at that time, he only had the room essentials. The double bed plays an important part of his painting, which is also his main wooden furniture. There is no wardrobe, but a few of his coats and a straw hat hanging at the far-right of the wall. Beside this personnel clothing, he had also hanged a few paintings on the wall near to the bed. A pair of portrait paintings, and underneath another drawings in white frames. On top of the two pillows, hang a landscape painting. Bed sheet is in yellow color, with high contrast against the warm red blanket; most prominent at the center of this painting. On both sides there are two shut doors that create sort of ‘framing’, aligned with the empty forefront wooden floor.

The chairs are in pairs, to provide simple hospitality to someone who visits him. A bedside table, placed with a jug of water and a washing bowl. Above it, a hanging mirror which regards as important item for him who is self-conscience of own appearance. A towel is close by, hanging from a nail next to the mirror. There is a window on the far end that allows most of the day light to shine into the room. The overview of his bedroom is tidy, all the items are in place, creating a sense of being organized and independence living.

All in all, I guess the most important aspect of the painting is the angled perspective drawn in this artwork. The view is quite similar to “The Night Café”, that Van Gogh depicted a situation that is totally opposite. The scale of the bedroom is much smaller and compact. Now, the question for you is, at which eye level did Van Gogh view and painted his bedroom?

To my observation, he could be possibly sitting on a chair, or even on a low stool. If you look closely at his artwork, the bedroom actually painted to include a small portion of the ceiling. That top corner of his bedroom is visibly located above the bed. A straight corner line on the far right, drawn upward that diverge into 2 smaller lines showing sign of the ceiling. It is at this point where the entire view creates a whole different perspective. This can easily prove by just covering the corner or remove it by image editing. The view of the painting changes, just like you are looking at it while standing up. Van Gogh’s painting is exceptionally sensitive and intelligent.

Van Gogh Bedroom, Oil Paining, Arles, 1888
Van Gogh Bedroom, Oil Paining on Canvas, Arles, 1888