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Jim Foley writes:

I'm dropping you a note to let you know that there is an amazing picture of Vincent van Gogh in a photograph of Cormon's studio. Get out any book on Lautrec or Cormon, and you'll find the photograph. It's labeled Atelier Cormon, and the dates of this photograph vary - Sweetman, circa 1883; Peruchot, 1885; Freches, 1885-86.

This photographs shows Cormon at the easel, Lautrec to the left foreground, and THAT IS Vincent, crouched down in the foreground holding the paint brushes and palette, passionately absorbed by what is going on at that canvas perched on the easel. Look at his passion, his energy for art, and look at the comparative stillness around him. He's being sucked into the canvas, "concentrated vehemence", as Peruchot describes Vincent's overall passion for art, while most of the others seem to be school boys waiting for class to end, with the exception of Henri.

And look at the clothes, most of the students in this photograph look spiffy, and alike, while Vincent's clothes are not spiffy, and he looks unlike all the others. This is Vincent, and in a most unbelievable pose, absorbed in art. I realized that this was Vincent over twenty years ago, and have enjoyed looking at this picture, almost daily.

Over the years, I learned that the exact date of this photograph is unknown. 1885 is listed quite a bit. The Freches have it dated at 1885-86 in their book on Toulouse-Lautrec. Vincent came to Cormon's studio, by all accounts, in June of 1886 (Hulsker), and left in the Autumn of the same year.

Also, look at Vincent's Self-Portrait in Front of the Easel that is dated early 1888, the same physical and emotional beings as the person in this photograph - the same face, hair, body structure, posture, and clothes style. Look at and feel the photograph and the self-portrait together - Vincent!

At this point there is not definitive proof that this photograph was taken at Corman's studio during June, July, August or September of 1886, but the photograph offers emotional proof. Worldwide cooperation may help date the photograph.

Cormon's studio Detail

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