After the flood

The Bedroom

Van Gogh painted three versions of The bedroom. He often made copies of his own works when he was satisfied with them. He usually planned to sell the new version or give it away.

In late 1888, Van Gogh was admitted to the hospital because he had injured his ear after an argument with Gauguin. By early 1889 he was back in the ‘Yellow House’ and wrote to Theo, ‘When I saw my canvases again after my illness, what seemed to me the best was the bedroom.’

When a nearby river flooded, water seeped into Van Gogh’s studio and damaged the painting. Van Gogh sent it to Theo, asking if he could line it with a new canvas. Theo sent it back to Vincent so that he could make a copy first. Vincent did so, in the Saint-Rémy asylum in September 1889. That same month, he made a smaller copy for his mother and his sister Wil.

Small changes

Van Gogh changed small details in the copies. In the earliest version, we see two portraits over his bed (as well as one landscape and two drawings or prints). The portraits in the later versions are different. If you look closely, you will find other small differences.

The paintings over the bed have been identified. They are portraits of the poet Eugène Boch (at left) and Lieutenant Milliet (at right).

The poet, portrait of Eugène Boch, 1888 Musée d’Orsay, Paris

The lover (portrait of Lieutenant Milliet), 1888 Collectie Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands