Joseph-Etienne Roulin (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh

Joseph-Etienne Roulin - Vincent Van Gogh - 1889

All Artwork Images

Artwork Information

TitleJoseph-Etienne Roulin
ArtistVincent Van Gogh
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions26 x 21 5/8 in. (66.2 x 55 cm)
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationBarnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, US
Location Created Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France

About Joseph-Etienne Roulin

The artwork “Joseph-Etienne Roulin” is a portrait by the masterful Vincent Van Gogh, completed in the year 1889. This oil on canvas is a fine example of the Post-Impressionism movement, measuring 26 x 21 5/8 inches (66.2 x 55 cm). The genre of the piece is a portrait, created in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France, and it currently resides at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA, US.

The artwork depicts Joseph-Etienne Roulin, a postman with whom Van Gogh formed a significant friendship during his time in Arles. The subject is portrayed with a robust and commanding presence, his face occupying a substantial portion of the canvas. Roulin is depicted with a strikingly expressive gaze, his blue eyes seeming to engage the viewer directly, framed by bushy eyebrows and a full, graying beard. The visage conveys a sense of wisdom and experience, inviting contemplation of the subject’s character and life.

The postman’s uniform, complete with the “POSTES” cap emblematic of his profession, is rendered in deep blues accented with bright gold buttons, communicating both the dignity of his position and the pride with which he likely wore his official garb. Van Gogh’s signature style is evident in the bold, impasto brushstrokes that define Roulin’s features and attire with dynamic texture and form.

In the background, decorative floral motifs emanate vibrantly beside Roulin’s head, painted in a way that the background and subject interact seamlessly. Van Gogh’s use of contrasting colors, such as the complementary blues of the uniform against the warmer tones of Roulin’s ruddy complexion and the verdant green backdrop, adds to the intensity and emotional depth of the portrait. Additionally, elements of Van Gogh’s signature are incorporated into the artwork, merging signature and composition—an indication of the personal significance the artist attributed to the work and his subject.

Other Artwork from Vincent Van Gogh

More Post-Impressionism Artwork

Scroll to Top