The encounter was significant for Gauguin, as well, who gained representation by a major Parisian dealer. Theo regularly exhibited Gauguin’s work at his gallery and sold many paintings and sculptures in under two years, providing the artist with a significant source of income. He was also instrumental in establishing Gauguin as a major avant-garde player, garnering him reviews by famous art critics and placing his works in important collections. Although their working relationship was cut short due to Theo’s untimely death in 1891, the younger Van Gogh made a concerted effort to sell Gauguin’s work in the years following their initial meeting.
“The Van Gogh brothers were thus responsible for Gauguin’s first serious successes in the Parisian art world following his return from Martinique,” co-curator Maite van Dijk writes in the exhibition catalogue. “Their enthusiasm and recognition were incredibly important to Gauguin.”
The nine weeks that Van Gogh and Gauguin shared in the sunflower-colored house in Arles was a highly productive period for both artists: Van Gogh made 36 canvases and Gauguin completed 21. This set of works also included portraits that the artists painted of each other. The collaboration was intense and it may have intensified their differences, too. After a few attempts at painting from imagination, Van Gogh retreated to strict study from nature. Gauguin experimented with some of Van Gogh’s chosen subjects (such as Arles locals, washerwomen, and peasants), but inevitably depicted them as he fancied.