An unknown (to me!) photo of Vincent Van Gogh at Jesus age!

For the moment, I just want to share with you this unknown to me photo of Vincent, I found in a new book by Benoit Landais (known especially as a nonconformist critic of the Gachet family legend and the one who unveiled the false Dr Gachet portrait still in the Louvre – ok, Orsay Museum…)

Here it is:

Vincent a 33 ans Paris oare

Fragile, hiper sensitive, maybe older than the 33 years old he had at the moment, with bright, liquid and very light colored eyes, Vincent smiles for this almost conventional photo. He<s even dressed "officially" and has a bow tie (or something…) And, of course, he looks just like his self portraits… The photo was taken by a Victor Morin and probably, considering the age, he is in Paris…


37 responses to “An unknown (to me!) photo of Vincent Van Gogh at Jesus age!

  1. Nice to see this photo, Danu. A smile, you call it? I wouldn’t want him any other way but he didn’t have much of a funny-bone.

  2. ovidiu stanomir

    bietul Vincent, arata ca strabunicul meu (intr-o poza din albumul familiei), in pragul batranetii

  3. Well, it’s a smile, still… He do have a sense of humor though and lots of letters of his prove it… but, true, not woody allen type of humour…

  4. da, ovidiu, e drept ca arata fragil, imbatranit…nu era vegetarian, deh…absinthul si cafeau or veni ele din plante, pana la urma, dar nu conteaza ca hrana vegetariana… Nici prea multe vitamine nu au…

    3 luni pe mana mea si faceam ficior din el, de-ar fi bucurat-o mai des pe preferata lui Rachel, aia la care i-a cadorisit urechiusa…

  5. larrycoleart

    What an intriguing photo… I have always wondered what kind of thoughts ran through his head. I want to believe he was a brave man as his paintings would suggest, and not just the depressed wacko many has presumed… The bottom line is that we are all better today because he was here. I, for one, am glad he was here, and his spirit lives on through his work. Thanks for sharing!

  6. He was a brave man, larrycoleart! We just have to go to his letters and read a few lines. Very rarely – maybe the 27 of July 1890 = was he a depressed wacko…

  7. Mihail Medrea

    Exista doua moduri de a trai: sa vegetezi sau sa arzi…

  8. Sau cand sa vegetezi, cand sa arzi… Nu vad Mihailus, de ce trebuie sa fie totdeauna ori ori si nu si-si…

  9. Mihail Medrea

    Pentru ca sunt doua feluri de oameni: cei cu gandul spre cer si cei cu gandul spre pantec…

  10. Si asta mi-a lipsit… blogul tau

  11. Mihail: iar ori,ori… de ce nu si, si…Si cu gandul la cer, si cu gandul la pantec, alternativ… Speciile ale pure, neameastecate, nu exista mon ami…si sfintii se luptau – si ala si paRE SA FI FOST meritul lor – cu tentatiile pantecului…

  12. Mihail Medrea

    pt. ca nu se poate si cu sula in gura si cu sufletul in Rai !

  13. Estu 100 % sigur, M?

  14. Mihail Medrea

    vrei sa ai ultimul cuvant?…

  15. As vrea io… da cu tine nu-s 100% ca pot…

  16. I’m waiting

  17. Oh how we often wish that something would become what we would like it to be. A pity that the author of the book seems to have omitted the original printed material beneath it, which shows it to be an advertising card or carte de visite for the portrait photographer Victor Morin (who was based in Canada). The text presenting it as Vincent van Gogh aged 33 is a later addition, not on the original photograph. Logically, this is a photo of Victor Morin himself, taken circa 1900 going by his dress, and bearing a passing resemblance to van Gogh (at least inasmuch as van Gogh depicted himself). As a portrait photographer Morin would utilize his advertising material to show an example of his work. To avoid possible complaints from previous clients, he would be sensible use a photo of himself (which, incidentally, would also show them what he looked like). Also the photo was purchased in the USA, so it is likely that it or its subject matter never travelled further than North America. A great pity that speculative fictions such as this ‘identification’ can possibly be one day accepted as fact, and get into the biographical record. In reality it’s just another case of a journalist chasing a good story and not bothering to think sensibly.

  18. Sure it is Vincent. Here is a colored version made by portrait artist Kevin Frank;

  19. Everything Geoffrey said above is spot on and the senior cataloguer at the Notman Photographic Archives at the McCord Museum of Canadian History agrees with me. Just because the man in the photograph resembles an impressionistic self-portrait of Van Gogh does not confirm that it is Van Gogh even if computer imaging is able to morph the image into Van Gogh’s self-portrait. We know with 100% surety that Van Gogh was never in Sainte-Hyacinthe during Morin’s active period. There is no proof that Morin was in the same geographical location as Van Gogh, therefore the image cannot be verified as being Van Gogh.

    One tale states that Morin was in Brussels about 1886, to take a series of photographs of clergymen, among which was found this image. It is unlikely that a small-town photographer would have traveled all the way to Brussels from Saint- Hyacinthe to take photographs of clergymen when there were plenty of local photographers active in Brussels at the time. Local photographers would have been much cheaper than importing a Canadian photographic artist.

    Is there a record of Morin travelling to Belgium, such as a passenger list or a passport application? Why would Morin have traveled with his mounting cards with his trademark and address of St. Hyacinthe, a small town in Quebec, unheard of by most people.

    Personally, I think this image is of a local St. Hyacinthe inhabitant, who engaged Morin to take his likeness, and we have no idea who he is. My theory is that this carte-de-visit ended up in New England along with an influx of immigrants from Quebec who moved to the US in the 1890s to get away from British rule.

    In all of Van Gogh’s letters, which are readily found online, he states that he had one photograph taken when he was 19. He was a very garrulous letter-writer and I am sure that if he cleaned up, dressed up and used Theo’s money for a studio portrait he would have written about it. Vincent even states in a letter to his sister in 1889 that he finds “photography” frightful.

    It is just bad research that no attempt to determine the provenance of the photo was made by Mr Buberger or his forensic researchers, but as Buberger’s researchers helped acquit OJ Simpson, accuracy and ethics seems to play no part in their results.

    • I don’t know, really, about 100 % certitudes…I, personally, have none of those… So, maybe it’s Vincent’s photo or maybe not. No big deal. In these cases, usually, I use a very nice Italian set – phrase: Si non e vero, e ben trovato… But you’re making a lot o good points…

      • Hi, because Van Gogh was a copious letter writer the public knows with a high degree of certainty exactly where he was at a specific time. He was supported 100% by his brother Theo in the last decade of his life. Thanks for listening.

      • Yes, he wrote a lot of letters (I wonder what he would have done toay with all those media, Facebook and Twitter etc…) but, as I said, as a scholar of Vincent’s life, I’m not sure about the 100%…There are a lot of grey or dark areas in his life, “suicide” included (see my posts if interested and, especially, their main source, Naifeh and White Smith last bio of Vincent.) Cannot totally agree with the 100% support of his brother Theo (also, no doubt, his main & only supporter: Vincent was, at times, quite difficult and quite demanding…even a pain in the arse). So, I don’t think Theo, especially after having his own family and all, didn’t have his doubts. Could be even a big reason for Vincent’s last day of life depression…It’s written down in his (and Theo’s) letter…

      • I feel bad Hazel believes I am unethical.
        The research at the Forensic Institute was done by Dr. Albert B Harper, please google him. He is as honest as could be and dedicated to his research. BTW, this is an identification investigation and it involves Van Gogh, it could have been any criminal or missing person.

        I have been trying for years to find out how Vincent’s photo got to be mounted on the 6 1/2″ X 4 1/2″ cabinet card identified with Victor Morin’s name. That’s where I need help! I do not own the photo or any rights to it.
        I did find a Morin photo business in Namur and Paris, 1&6
        Date: March 8, 2001 2:16:08 PM EST
        Subject: Eastman House response

        Here is all the information from our database. There are 6 different
        entries for “Morin” . I’m betting your photo is related to #1. There is
        however very little more to say about him. I looked at the book that is
        cited here by Vercheval and it is basically a two-line citation, all of
        which information I enclose here. As for Morin and Tholander, the
        Eastman House holds a  single CDV by them. We have discovered that they were active in Sweden. There is no separate entry for Tholander. I would suggest that you pursue the Belgian guy. Know any fellow daguerreian society member from Belgium?
        Best Wishes,
        Joe R. Struble
        Assistant Archivist

        1. Morin
        active:Namur Belgium
        successor to Mitkiewicz (1866)
        portraits, photogravure resproductions, objets d’art etc.

         Vercheval, Georges
         Pour une Histoire de la Photographie en Belgique
        Publisher:    Musée de la Photographie/Charleroi
        Place of Pub: Charleroi, Belgium
        Date of Pub:  1993
        Reference Type:  BOOK

        2. Morin & Tholander
        active ca. 1910
        Helsingborg, Sweden

        3, Morin Manufacturing Co.
        active 1930’s
        ADDRESS: US, MA, Holyoke
        ROLE: manufacturer, enlargers, printers, microphotog.

        4. Morin, Bernard
        only institutional holder:
        Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography
          1 Rideau Canal
          Ottawa, Canada
        RESEARCH CONTACT: Sue Lagasi, Registrar
          CONTACT PHONE: (613) 990-8257
             FAX PHONE: (613) 954-0528

        5. Morin, Bob
        only institutional holder:
        Center for Creative Photography
          The University of Arizona
          Tucson, AZ
        RESEARCH CONTACT: Curator
          CONTACT PHONE: (520) 621-7968
              FAX PHONE: (520) 621-9444
            WWW ADDRESS:

        6.  H. Morin
        ROLE: distributer
        ACTIVE:  1890s
        NATIONALITY:  French
        NAME VARIATIONS:  Morin, H. (Firm)
        ADDRESS: France, Paris — 3 Rue Boursault

        I was very fortunate to see Vincent’s 1886 self portrait drawing at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art in 2005, a private showing. What I realized there was in the drawing Vincent drew a sty on his eye, huh, the photo shows the sty. WHY WOULD ANY ARTIST DRAW A STY ON HIS EYE IF IT WAS NOT THERE???
        Oh, the computer did not morph ANYTHING! Nothing was added or taken out, not a hair! it simply overlaid the drawing over the photo.

        In a letter to Theo Vincent wrote “I am a man of thirty with wrinkles on my forehead and lines on my face as though I were forty”
        So, does the photo portray Vincent older than his self portraits? NO!

        One last thought for now, I have been collecting photographs for forty years and I can say with confidence that it is very, very rare for a photographer to put his image on a Cabinet Card or C.D.V.

        Best wishes
        Please see my art at

      • The sty question…yes, that’s a good one.

      • Hi Ion, I see you are Canadian too and 90 minutes from where Morin’s studio was located 120 years ago. Life is funny that way. Maybe one day YOU will run across more Morin CDVs.

    • Hello Hazel, here’s something to look at, please compare the hairline on the VG drawing and the photo. Just the hairline! Magnify them next to each other.

    • Here is a link you might enjoy, Dr Arnold examined the original photo, at my home, and is a strong supporter of it.

  20. Hi Joe, it was not my idea that Morin put his own image on a CDV. I think that was ivdanu. I will give you a hint, Morin’s partner in photography moved to Holyoke MA in the early 1890s with an influx of people from St. Hyacinthe, many of them probably moving photos of loved ones from Quebec with them.
    And as for the sty, I’ve had a copy of the 1889 self-portrait of Vincent, that this photo is so often compared to, on my dining room wall for 24 years. I’ve never seen the sty. Good luck. I will carry on trying to uncover who this really is.

  21. Hello Hazel,
    Can you share that information with me? Morin’s partner that moved to Holyoke?
    Best, Joe

  22. Here is something you should all enjoy;

  23. Thanks, Wilfred came to visit me about ten years ago, he’s a great man.
    He reviewed my research and is a strong believer in the photograph.

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