Real or Doppelgänger of Vincent van Gogh?

Day 83 of Colourisation Project – July 29

The picture has been carefully  analyzed and compared to his self portraits. Some experts think he used the camera obscure technique to trace the lines of his face before painting his later self-portraits and the features have been carefully lined up as a test. It certainly looks like a match, but there is still debate as to whether it is actually him of not. – See more at: http://yargb.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/unpainted-face.html#sthash.RuEg3dRk.dpuf

124 years ago on this day, 29 July in 1890, Vincent van Gogh passed away from infection caused by a self inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 37. Considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt, he was virtually unknown throughout his life. It was only in death that fame came his way.

There is nothing further that I can add to his story that hasn’t already been said. Today I want to focus on the curious fact that Vincent van Gogh did not like having photos taken of himself although he wasn’t averse to painting self portraits. There are more than 40 self-portraits that he completed in his short life time.  As for photographs, there are only two in existence that are widely believed to be of van Gogh taken at the ages of 13 and 19.

20 years ago another photo came to light, which may or may not be of the man himself. That photo is the subject of today’s colourisation challenge. The problem with this photo, bought for just $1 in the early 1990s in an antique dealer’s shop in Massachusetts is its veracity.

Photographer Victor Morin 1886 - Colourised by Loredana Crupi

Photographer Victor Morin 1886 – Colourised by Loredana Crupi

The man in the photograph does bear a striking resemblance to the van Gogh we know and recognise through his paintings. This little 4 1/2″  x  6 1/2″ photo dates back to 1886 and identifies the photographer as Victor Morin, 42 Rue St. Francois, St Hyacinthe. It shows a middle-aged bearded man wearing a plain suit and bow tie. His hair is short and neatly combed back revealing a distinctive widow’s peak hairline. The close resemblance is hard to deny. But not so for the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It rejects the notion that the picture is of the artist.

However Albert Harper, director of the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science in the US, who has worked on authenticating the photograph is convinced, “Even the most minute detail matched up, even the smallest hairs on the beards matched up.”

The picture has been carefully  analyzed and compared to his self portraits. Some experts think he used the camera obscure technique to trace the lines of his face before painting his later self-portraits and the features have been carefully lined up as a test. It certainly looks like a match, but there is still debate as to whether it is actually him of not. – See more at: http://yargb.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/unpainted-face.html#sthash.RuEg3dRk.dpuf
The picture has been carefully  analyzed and compared to his self portraits. Some experts think he used the camera obscure technique to trace the lines of his face before painting his later self-portraits and the features have been carefully lined up as a test. It certainly looks like a match, but there is still debate as to whether it is actually him of not. – See more at: http://yargb.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/unpainted-face.html#sthash.RuEg3dRk.dpufIt rejects the notion that the picture is of the artist. But Albert Harper, director of the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science in the US, who has worked on authenticating the photograph is convinced, “Even the most minute detail matched up, even the smallest hairs on the beards matched up.”

Some experts think van Gogh used the camera obscura technique to trace the lines of his face matching the size of the forehead, the shape of the eyes and even individual hairs before painting his self portraits. In alignment tests conducted on images of the photo and van Gogh’s paintings the features certainly lined up.

The picture has been carefully  analyzed and compared to his self portraits. Some experts think he used the camera obscure technique to trace the lines of his face before painting his later self-portraits and the features have been carefully lined up as a test. It certainly looks like a match, but there is still debate as to whether it is actually him of not. – See more at: http://yargb.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/unpainted-face.html#sthash.RuEg3dRk.dpuf

Photo historian Joseph Buberger, who has also worked on identifying images of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant believes without a doubt that the man in the photograph is van Gogh. Buberger goes even further stating it is entirely possible that van Gogh drew and painted his self-portraits based on this very photograph. He suggests van Gogh painted most of his self-portraits between 1886 and 1889 after the photo was taken in 1886.

And after searching through databases, Mr Buberger matched the photographer’s name, Victor Morin, with an old studio in Brussels, a city where van Gogh spent much of his time.

It certainly looks like a match but the debate continues. There is only one St Hyacinthe in the world and that is in Quebec, Canada.  The name Morin & Messier and the address 42 Rue St Francois, St Hyacinthe are listed in a late 1800’s Canadian business directory.  What are the chances of another photographer by the name Morin located at the same address in Brussels?

There are unanswered questions: how did this photograph end up in the archive of a French-Canadian photographer? Van Gogh never made it across the water to Canada. How did a Quebec-based photographer Victor Morin shoot a photo of Vincent van Gogh? Did he travel to Paris, shoot the photo there and then bring it back to Canada?

To add some spice to this perplexing question of authenticity…what if we could create a digital photo from one of van Gogh’s selfies? Well digital artist Tadao Cern has done just that with haunting results that lend convincingly to the theory that the man in the old Morin photo is indeed Vincent van Gogh.

Or is this all simply a case of mistaken identity?

_____________________________________________________________

“I myself still find photographs frightful and don’t like to have any, especially not of people whom I know and love.” 
Vincent Van Gogh, to his sister Willemien, September 19, 1889.*

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16 Responses to Real or Doppelgänger of Vincent van Gogh?

  1. joseph says:

    We know Vincent painted his mother from a photograph message:%3CCC608AD9-E8DD-4511-9CBB-5BFA4C0ECDAC@comcast.net%3E

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mariskavl says:

    You convieniently forget to mention that the man in the Canadian photo, looks much older than Vincents 36 years! It does not add up. Accept that there are lookalikes in this world. Maybe putting efforts into finding out who this man really was, may help put your ghost to rest…

    Like

    • Loredana Isabella Crupi says:

      Van Gogh led a tough and stressful life and his appearance could easily belie his age, so I don’t think your argument holds weight. I don’t have the time or inclination to do what you have suggested. Perhaps you could invest the time and effort to do just that on your trial webpage.

      Cheers L 🙂

      Like

    • buberger says:

      How old does Vincent look in his self-portraits?

      Like

  3. mariskavl says:

    Broadcasting wrong facts. Is that not what George Bush was very good at?

    Like

  4. H says:

    Thank you for using some of the facts I easily uncovered regarding the provenance of the photo. I appreciate it. Perhaps we have done parallel research. Regarding the origin of the photo – I agree that facts should not be bent to fit in with one’s story. I find the ineptitude of Albert Harper staggering. The Tadao Cern project does nothing except prove that Tadao Cern looks like the 1888 self-portrait of Van Gogh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loredana Isabella Crupi says:

      I agree…It is all mere speculation but like you I so wanted it to be a photo of the great artist! 🙂

      Like

  5. mariskavl says:

    Now that last one is what I call an honest comment

    Like

  6. Anonymous says:

    In Vincent’s 1886 pen & ink self-portrait there is STY on his lower eyelid. It is also very prominent in the photo!!!
    Why would Vincent draw a sty?????

    Because it is in the photograph!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. buberger says:

    Pascal Bonafoux wrote four. {4} books about VVG including “The Passionate Eye” Van Gogh’s self-portraits AND “Portraits and Letters, Van Gogh”

    He is a master historian!

    Subject: Re: photo
    Date: Thursday, March 4, 2004 4:13 AM
    From: Pascal Bonafoux
    To: Joe Buberger jbuberger1@comcast.net
    Conversation: photo

    Thank you very much! Your discovery is fantastic!!!
    As you can imagine, I would like to know how you have found this
    photograph of Vincent van Gogh as well as il would be very interreting
    to read the text by Albert Harper, even if, looking at this photograph
    I have no doubt: this man is Vincent him-self.
    Let me apologise if I didn’t gave you an answer immediately, but I am
    in charge of an exhibition to be opened at the end of the month here in
    Paris (MOI! autoportraits du XXe siècle or if you Prefer I, self
    portraits of the last century.) This exhibition will present more than
    150 pieces. As you can imagine I am a little bit busy…
    But, one more time, thank you very much for this wonderful discovery.
    Best regards
    Pascal Bonafoux
    Sorry for the imperfect way I am writing in english…

    Le 2 mars 04, à 00:02, Joe Buberger a écrit :

    Hi Pascal,

    Liked by 2 people

  8. buberger says:

    Pascal Bonafoux wrote six (6) books about VVG including “The Passionate Eye” Van Gogh’s self-portraits AND “Portraits and Letters, Van Gogh”

    OKAY NOW! LET’S OPEN SOME MINDS!
    He is a master historian!

    Subject: Re: photo
    Date: Thursday, March 4, 2004 4:13 AM
    From: Pascal Bonafoux
    To: Joe Buberger jbuberger1@comcast.net
    Conversation: photo

    Thank you very much! Your discovery is fantastic!!!
    As you can imagine, I would like to know how you have found this
    photograph of Vincent van Gogh as well as il would be very interreting
    to read the text by Albert Harper, even if, looking at this photograph
    I have no doubt: this man is Vincent him-self.
    Let me apologise if I didn’t gave you an answer immediately, but I am
    in charge of an exhibition to be opened at the end of the month here in
    Paris (MOI! autoportraits du XXe siècle or if you Prefer I, self
    portraits of the last century.) This exhibition will present more than
    150 pieces. As you can imagine I am a little bit busy…
    But, one more time, thank you very much for this wonderful discovery.
    Best regards
    Pascal Bonafoux
    Sorry for the imperfect way I am writing in english…

    Le 2 mars 04, à 00:02, Joe Buberger a écrit :

    Hi Pascal,

    Liked by 2 people

  9. buberger says:

    Works by Pascal Bonafoux
    Van Gogh: The Passionate Eye 162 copies, 1 review
    Rembrandt: Master of the Portrait 48 copies
    Rembrandt: Substance and Shadow (New Horizons) 32 copies
    Vermeer 22 copies
    Louvre Game Book: Play With The Largest Museum In The World 20 copies
    A Weekend with Rembrandt (Weekend With…Ser.) 14 copies
    Van Gogh: Self Portraits With Accompanying Letters from Vincent to His… 9 copies
    Rembrandt : self-portrait 9 copies
    Van Gogh (Masters of Modern Art) 7 copies
    Behind the scenes in Versailles 6 copies
    European Art 6 copies
    Portraits of the artist : the self-portrait in painting 5 copies
    Moi! Autoritratti del XX secolo 4 copies
    The Impressionists – Portraits and Confidences 4 copies
    Vincent van Gogh, Das Licht der Farbe 3 copies
    Jean Vérame, Tibesti : le désert et la couleur 2 copies
    Rives 2 copies
    Rodin & eros 2 copies
    Zu Gast bei Dali 2 copies
    Autoportraits du XXe siècle 2 copies
    Cézanne, portrait (avec un CD-Rom) 2 copies
    Le musée du Luxembourg à Paris 1 copy
    Van Gogh par Vincent 1 copy
    Monet : biografia 1 copy
    delacroix, les dernières années 1 copy
    L’Autoportrait au XXe siècle 1 copy
    Ladurée : instants gourmands 1 copy
    Vincent van Gogh 1 copy
    Les carnets de Degas 1 copy

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks Loredana, Why would people argue the findings of the greatest Van Gogh expert Pascal Bonafoux?

    
If a thousand old beliefs were ruined in our march to truth we must still march on.
    ~Stopford Brooke

    Like

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