Portrait of Pere Tanguy, 1887 by Vincent Van Gogh

This extraordinary man, Pere Tanguy, was a colour grinder with an art supply shop in Montmortre who took the avant-garde artists of the day under his wing, often trading their works for art supplies. By accounts he was extremely kind with a socialist leaning and was sympathetic to the struggles that emerging artists had. He also collected a huge number of works, especially those by Paul Cezanne as well as Van Gogh, Pissarro, Gauguin, Claude Monet, Manet and others. He bought and traded the paintings, selling them on for little profit and only just making a living himself.

Pere Tanguy's shop became a gathering place for artists and the scene of lively debate and discussion, and it appears that he was a man who was universally admired and liked. This portrait of him, which was one of several Van Gogh did, shows him sitting calmly against a vivid wall of Japanese prints. Van Gogh was a great collector of these prints, and made several copies of them, as well as incorporating them into his other paintings.