The Zouave by Vincent van Gogh

The Zouave

The Zouave by Vincent van Gogh

Painting Details

Artist: Vincent van Gogh
Title and Year: The Zouave, 1888
Size: 65 x 82cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Collection: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Subject: Portraits, Male Portraits


Vincent van Gogh painted several portraits of Zouaves, including his friend Paul-Eugene Milliet (not the sitter for this portrait). A zouave was a regiment of the French army dressed in an arabesque influenced manner because of their Algerian background.

Van Gogh wrote about the Zouave painting in a letter to his brother Theo van Gogh, saying "I have a model at last.. a Zouave.. a boy with a small face, a bull neck, and the eye of a tiger, and I began with one portrait, and began again with another; the half-length I did of him was horribly harsh, in a blue uniform, the blue of enamel saucepans, with braids of a faded reddish-orange, and two yellow stars on his breast, an ordinary blue, and very hard to do. That bronzed, feline head of his with a red cap, I placed it against a green door and the orange bricks of a wall. So it's a savage combination of incongruous tones, not easy to manage. The study I made of it seems to me very harsh, but all the same I'd like always to be working on vulgar, even loud portraits like this. It teaches me something, and above all that is what I want of my work. The second portrait will be full length, sitting against a white wall."

More information on

About AQ
Search for Quote
Social Media
Privacy Policy


Subscribe to the weekly Art Quotes newsletter to receive a couple inspirational arty quotes.

Subscribe Unsubscribe

Quote of the Moment

  • "The painter must enclose himself within his work; he must respond not with words, but with paintings."
    Paul Cezanne