Van Gogh’s famous yellow chair wasn’t just any chair.
Van Gogh’s Chair (1888) National Gallery, London (public domain photo)
It was his favorite chair, the one he always sat on (not very still) during his long and sometimes stormy talks with the painter Gauguin, who had come to Arles for a visit. Van Gogh painted Gauguin’s chair too.
Gauguin’s Chair by Van Gogh (1888) in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (public domain photo)
The yellow one is Van Gogh happy–euphoric. The other one is Van Gogh very blue. Why?
Van Gogh had high hopes that he and Gauguin would start a community of artists, all painting happily together and discussing their art and the great issues of life. But they quarreled all the time and Gauguin decided that life with Van Gogh was impossible. Van Gogh wrote in a letter to a friend, all full of remorse for his bad behavior and already missing his friend Paul Gauguin: “A few days before we parted, before illness forced me to enter a home, I tried to paint his empty chair.”