Not currently on display at the V&A

L'Homme à la Pipe

Print
1890 (etched)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

L'Homme à la Pipe; Half-length portrait of Dr. Paul F. Gachet, who is shown seated in a garden, holding a pipe to his mouth. Railings and the suggestion of flowers and a tree are visible behind him; Etching print on laid tissue paper; In the top-right corner of image, the date '15 Mar 90' has been added in drypoint; Collector's mark of a cat's face is stamped, in red, at the bottom of the plate impression - this being the mark of Dr. Gachet and his son P. L. L. Gachet; Details of the print have been written in pencil on the reverse of the sheet by P. L. L. Gachet.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitlePortrait of Dr. Paul Gachet
Materials and Techniques
etching print on laid tissue paper
Brief Description
'L'Homme à la Pipe'; A portrait of Dr. Paul F. Gachet, who is shown seated in a garden, holding a pipe to his mouth; Etching print on laid tissue paper; An impression of the only etching made by Vincent van Gogh; Bearing the collector's mark of Dr. Gachet and his son P. L. L. Gachet; France; 1890.
Physical Description
L'Homme à la Pipe; Half-length portrait of Dr. Paul F. Gachet, who is shown seated in a garden, holding a pipe to his mouth. Railings and the suggestion of flowers and a tree are visible behind him; Etching print on laid tissue paper; In the top-right corner of image, the date '15 Mar 90' has been added in drypoint; Collector's mark of a cat's face is stamped, in red, at the bottom of the plate impression - this being the mark of Dr. Gachet and his son P. L. L. Gachet; Details of the print have been written in pencil on the reverse of the sheet by P. L. L. Gachet.
Dimensions
  • Approx size of sheet height: 40cm
  • Approx size of sheet width: 28cm
  • Approx size of plate impression height: 18.25cm
  • Approx size of plate impression width: 15cm
  • Approx size of image height: 17.5cm
  • Approx size of image width: 14.25cm
Measured by DH.
Style
Production typeLimited edition
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Collector's mark of the face of a cat, stamped in red - This being the mark of Dr. P. F. Gachet and his son P. L. L. Gachet. (Stamped at the bottom of the plate impression, in the centre, slightly overlapping onto the image.)
  • 15 Mar 90 (Written in drypoint, top-right corner of image.)
  • L'Homme à la Pipe (Dr Gachet) Eau-forte unique de Vincent Van Gogh. Auvers s/oise. 25 Mai 1890. Paul Gachet. (Written in pencil on the reverse of the sheet, along the bottom edge. Paul Gachet written as a signature. This was written by Dr. Gachet's son P. L. L. Gachet.)
Object history
The plate for this print is held in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Other impressions are held by the British Museum (Registration Number: 1923,0711.1) and the Wellcome Institute Collection.



Note from a letter written by Martin Bailey who examined the V&A print on 22 January 2010:-



'The inscription on the reverse is signed by Paul Gachet Jr, the son of Dr Gachet. He (and Eugène Delâtre) published most of the surviving impressions. there could be up to nearly 100 surviving impressions (but they are still valuable, selling for around £50,000). ....'



'Nothing is known of the pre-1950 provenance of your print (Leicester Galleries, which sold it to [the V&A] for £37.16.0). However, it could be the example which was owned by Martha Edwards of Gloucester, and exhibited there in 1936 (see my "Van Gogh and Britain" catalogue, p.80, [see below])'.



'The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was not aware of your print (and neither was I). Monique Hagemann in their documentation department is recording the prints and may well be in touch with you.'





Text from 'Van Gogh and Britain' by Martin Bailey:-



PORTRAIT OF DR GACHET

GIVEN BY PAUL GACHET TO THE BRITISH MUSEUM IN 1923



Etched in Auvers in 1890

Etching, 18 x 15 cm

The British Museum, London

F1664/JH2028



PROVENANCE

Paul Gachet Jr, Auvers; British

Museum, London, 1923



REFERENCES

'The Graphic Work of Vincent van Gogh',

Van Gogh Museum, 1995, no.10-40.



Van Gogh produced only one etching, a portrait of Dr Paul Ferdinand Gachet (1828-1909), the homeopathic doctor he knew in Auvers. He also painted two celebrated portraits of Gachet which he executed a week or so before the print. As well as a medical specialist, Gachet was an amateur artist and an enthusiastic collector of modern art. He also owned a printing press, and this gave Van Gogh his only opportunity to experiment with the etching process. The etching depicts Gachet, aged forty-two, smartly dressed and smoking his pipe. He is deep in tought, with a furrowed brow, and has a melancholic air. The setting is almost certainly his garden, on the outskirts of Auvers, where Van Gogh loved to paint. The date on the etching, 15 May, is incorrect and was most likely added to the plate retrospectively by Gachet. Van Gogh had Sunday lunch with the Gachet household on 15 June 1890, probably the date on which the print was made. Six weeks later he shot himself and it was Gachet who treated him for the two days before he died. Gachet named the print 'L'Homme à la pipe' (Man with a Pipe). Sixty-one impressions have been recorded, and this particular one was printed by Gachet's son, Paul (or possibly by his printer Eugène Delâtre). It was donated by Paul Gachet Jr to the British Museum in July 1923, making it the first work by Van Gogh to enter a British public collection. There are two of the Gachets' collectors' marks at the bottom of the print: on the left, the intertwined initials (P.F.G.), and in the centre, a cat's head. A second copy of the etched 'Portrait of Dr Gachet' came to Britain four years later, purchased by Henry Wellcome from Paul Gachet Jr for 700 francs (£6). Wellcome, who owned a successful pharmaceutical company, had an enormous collection of medical material from around the world. His primary interest in the Van Gogh etching was that it ws the portrait of a medical specialist. His print was transferred to the library of the Wellcome Institute in 1936. A third copy of the etching (present location unknown) was once owned by Martha Edwards of Gloucester and was exhibited there in 1936.'



Historical significance: This impression is of the only etching made by Vincent van Gogh.
Production
The British Museum have suggested that the correct date of the plate is 15th June 1890 and that Dr. Gachet himself added the incorrect date (of '15 Mar 90') in drypoint at a later stage. See catalogue entry for 'Van Gogh and Britain: pioneer collectors' by Martin Bailey; page 80.



Attribution note: 61 impressions from the original plate are known to exist.
Subjects depicted
Bibliographic References
  • The Graphic Works of Vincent van Gogh; Van Gogh Museum; 1995, no.10.40
  • 'Van Gogh and Britain: pioneer collectors' by Martin Bailey with an essay by Frances Fowle; Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland; 2006
  • Taken from Departmental Circulation Register 1950
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.125-1950

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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