In August 1888, Van Gogh told his brother about his plans to paint a picture with a friend-artist – he called it a dreamer – using exaggerated colors. Instead of the simple background of an ordinary room, he created the night sky effect, on which the head would stand out “like the mysterious gleam of a dim star at infinity.” This letter indicated which value Van Gogh wanted to convey through the portrait. As always, he did not limit himself to a characteristic feature or features of a person who sat in the role of his model.
In this portrait the Belgian Eugène Bosch, an artist by
The problem was that, despite such a large-scale idea for a modern portrait based on a combination of color and symbolic attributes, Van Gogh could not convey this semantic load without a full textual explanation, which he had to state in the letters.