Piles of French Novels by Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Paris, October-November 1887
Original: oil on canvas, 73.6 x 54.4 cm
This still life is an ode to modern French literature. The books with yellow covers are not immediately identifiable to 21st-century viewers. But Van Gogh’s contemporaries recognized them as modern French paperbacks.
Van Gogh was an avid reader and an admirer of novelists such as the Goncourt brothers and Emile Zola. They offered a realistic, unvarnished perspective on modern life.
The open book in the foreground invites the viewer to come and read.
Read more about the life and work of Vincent van Gogh on his paintings page.
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