Vincent Van Gogh painted three portraits of Père Tanguy. Van Gogh joined his brother Theo in Paris, in March 1886, where he met Julien-François Tanguy, one of the most delightful characters in the Parisian art world. He ran a small paint supplies shop, on the Rue Clauzel, and often accepted paintings in exchange for the goods he sold. The shopkeeper never parted with this painting.
Here we have pure colors, the use of contrasting complementary colors, and visible well-positioned brushwork on a flat picture space. There is great depth and harmony. He represents the old man in a strictly frontal pose, immobile, lost in thought, with his hands clasped over his stomach. The painting succeeds in capturing all the sitter’s kindness and modesty. Van Gogh has turned him into a sage. A peace comes from within.
I have always been interested in people that carry a smile; the kind that is committed to letting go of self-criticism and self-doubt.
Even the very young Anne Frank knew the secret: “No one has ever become poor by giving.”