Reclining Nude, 1887 by Vincent Van Gogh

The cultural and artistic climate of Paris at this time was diverging in two distinct directions. There was a hotbed of developing artistic trends, with innovative ideas and techniques and progressive attitudes towards the arts, poetry, philosophy, literature and music. There also prevailed a mainstream conformity, a resistance to change and a stifling conventionality was present, especially in relation to the arts. Theo Van Gogh, Vincents younger brother, worked as an art dealer for Boussod & Valadon, the successors of Goupil et Cie, who Vincent had worked for as a young man. Theo was not at this time allowed to display any paintings by the Impressionists or their counterparts on the main floor of the gallery, but had a separate room upstairs where he could hang their work. It was through Theo that Van Gogh became acquainted with a number of artists including Paul Cezanne, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet, and also through the shop of Pere Tanguy who sold artists' materials. This painting of a nude, which was a subject he explored during his second gear in Paris, reflects his style evolving through his increasing awareness of influences around him,