Paul Ferdinand Gachet. Etching by V. van Gogh, 1890.

  • Gogh, Vincent van, 1853-1890.
15 Mai 90 [i.e. 15 June 1890?]
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Paul Ferdinand Gachet. Etching by V. van Gogh, 1890. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

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About this work


Paul-Ferdinand Gachet (1828-1909) was a maverick physician who practised what later came to be called complementary or alternative medicine. He had a consulting room in Paris to which he commuted from his house in Auvers-sur-Oise outside the city. He was an art lover, being an amateur artist, an art collector, and a friend of many artists, one of them being the Dutchman Vincent Van Gogh. Gachet and Van Gogh only knew each other for a couple of months, from 20 May 1890 when Van Gogh arrived to stay in a lodging house in Auvers, to 27 July 1890, when he shot himself. Van Gogh, suffering from a form of mania, was producing one painting a day at that time, but, with Gachet's help, was able to draw this etched portrait to be printed on Gachet's printing press, probably after Sunday lunch at Gachet's house on 15 June 1890. Gachet's moist-eyed portrayal reflects Van Gogh's impression that Gachet was "sicker than I am", but it could in turn result from the fact that the sitter was looking at the artist and contemplating his lamentable mental state. This impression of the print was bought by Henry S. Wellcome from Gachet's son, Paul Louis Gachet, in 1927, together with many other items of Gachet personalia. The cat in the bottom margin is the stamp certifying the print's provenance from Paul-Ferdinand and Paul-Louis Gachet


15 Mai 90 [i.e. 15 June 1890?]

Physical description

1 print : etching ; platemark 18.3 x 15.1 cm


Impression catalogued (Wellcome Collection) inscribed in ink on the verso in hand of Paul-Louis Gachet: "L'homme à la pipe (Dr Gachet). Eau-forte unique de Vincent Van Gogh Auvers 25 Mai 1890" and signed in ink "Paul Gachet"

References note

Paul Gachet, Le Docteur Gachet et Murer: deux amis des impressionnistes, [Paris] 1956, pp. 101-120 and fig. 55
R. Burgess, Portraits of doctors & scientists in the Wellcome Institute, London 1973, no. 1064.1
A vision of history: the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London : Wellcome Institute, 1986, pp. 53-54
Gertrude M. Prescott, 'Gachet and Johnston-Saint: the provenance of Van Gogh's L'homme à la pipe', Medical history, 1987, vol. 31, pp. 217-224
Sjraar van Heugten and Fieke Pabst, The graphic work of Vincent van Gogh, Zwolle 1995, pp. 29-30 and p. 104 (Wellcome Institute impression no. 10.41)
Anne Distel and Susan Alyson Stein, Cézanne to Van Gogh: the collection of Doctor Gachet, New York 1999, pp. 98-101
Martin Bailey, 'A surprise: a UK medical museum owns a Van Gogh', The art newspaper (online edition), 2 December 2022

Exhibitions note

Exhibited in "Van Gogh and Britain" at Tate Britain, London, 27 March - 11 August 2019.
Exhibited in "Medicine Man" at Wellcome Collection, London, February 2015 - 2016.
Exhibited in "Medicine Man" at Wellcome Collection, London, 12 June 2007 - 2010.
Exhibited in "Dossier Van Gogh (The Van Gogh Files)" at Het Dolhuys, Nationaal museum van de psychiatrie, Haarlem, Netherlands, 24 August 2010 - 27 February 2011.
Exhibited in "Medicine and art: examining a future for life and love" at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 28 November 2009 - 28 February 2010.
Exhibited in "Medicine man: the forgotten museum of Henry Wellcome" at The British Museum, London, 26 June - 16 November 2003.
Exhibited in "A vision of history" at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London, 1986.


Wellcome Collection 3418i


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