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The Zouave

Graphite, Brown ink, Wax crayon, Watercolor, Wove paper, Reed pen

23.6 x 31.5 cm

Not For Sale

During a spell of torrential rain that interrupted his harvest series (June 20–24), Van Gogh made his first real effort at portraiture in Arles. Two days into his campaign, he announced to Theo: "I have a model at last—a Zouave—a boy with a small face, a bull neck, and the eye of the tiger." The present work served as a color study for his bust-length portrait of the dashing young soldier. In the oil painting, Van Gogh heightened the "savage combination of incongruous tones," fleshed out the character's likeness, and placed him in a convincing setting. That July he sent the watercolor, with a dedicatory inscription, to his "comrade Émile Bernard."