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Portrait of Doctor Felix Rey

Painting, 1889, 64×53 cm
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Description of the artwork «Portrait of Doctor Felix Rey»

In the early morning on Christmas eve of 1888, the seriously wounded man was brought to the hospital of Arles. The bleeding patient was seen by a 23-year-old intern Felix Ray who was on duty that day. This patient, as one might guess, was Vincent Van Gogh, who after a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, from despair, cut off the lower part of his ear with a razor and took it to a brothel. When the artist was taken to the hospital, he suffered not only from serious blood loss, but also from hallucinations. Dr. Ray looked after Vincent during the 15 days he spent in the hospital, and kept visiting the artist at the Yellow House after his discharge. He became one of the few people who treated van Gogh well in his last months of life in Arles.

Shortly after Vincent had left the hospital, he decided to thank his savior and painted a portrait of him. Later Ray told: "When I saw that he outlined my head entirely in green (he had only two main colors, red and green), that he painted my hair and my mustache ... in a blazing red on a biting green background, I was simply horrified ..." The doctor admitted that he never liked the painting. And what's more, the unenviable fate was waiting for it. At first, the canvas was kept in the attic for a long time, and then Rey's mother covered the hole in the chicken coop with it. In 1900, the Portrait of Doctor Rey was discovered by the artist Charles Camoin who came to Arles following in Van Gogh's footsteps.

Vincent was taken to the Arles hospital two more times, and he was treated again by Dr. Rey. When in May 1889, the artist decided to go to a mental hospital in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the doctor supported him and helped with transportation.

After graduating from the internship, Felix Rey became an expert on tuberculosis. He also received a silver medal from the French Ministry of the interior for his work during the cholera epidemic. The doctor kept a cut-off piece of van Gogh's ear in a jar of alcohol on his desk. But, as Ray told in one of the interviews, one day that jar was stolen.
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Post-Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1889

Size: 64×53 cm

Artwork in selections: 21 selections

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