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Portrait of Madame Augustine Roulin and Baby Marcelle
Portrait of Madame Augustine Roulin and Baby Marcelle, 1888 or 1889
Vincent Willem van Gogh, Dutch
Oil on canvas
36 3/8 x 28 15/16 inches (92.4 x 73.5 cm) Framed: 49 1/2 x 42 x 5 1/2 inches (125.7 x 106.7 x 14 cm)
Bequest of Lisa Norris Elkins, 1950
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Let's Look

  • Who are the people in this painting?
    What words would you use to describe them?
  • Are the figures distorted or do they look real?
  • What colors were used?
    Why do you think Vincent chose these colors?
    Are the brushstrokes small or large?
    Is the paint thick or thin?
  • How does this painting make you feel?
    Is it disturbing? Comforting? (Your reactions will be different depending on who you are; there is no "right" answer.)

Let's Look Again

  • How do you feel about this painting now? Your responses may change depending on how long you look. Whatever your reactions, find evidence for them in the painting.
  • Working together in small groups, discuss what the following terms could mean: outlines, parallel brushstrokes, squiggly brushstrokes, under-painting, impasto.
  • Madame Roulin and Baby Marcelle does not show the mother and child as they would appear in real life. Is the painting real in another way?


Hands-on Activity

  • Vincent owned a lacquered box made in Japan. He kept colored yarns in it and used them to experiment with different color combinations. Use yarn or squares of colored paper, and choose some colors you like. Which ones are intense? Which ones are pale? Find some colors and color combinations that are similar to the colors Vincent used in Madame Roulin and Baby Marcelle.

Writing Activities

  • Read over the quotes from Vincent's letters to Theo (in "About This Painting"). Write a letter to your best friend, an imaginary friend, or a relative telling them about something important that you have done or hope to do someday.
  • Vincent was interested in Japan. He used ideas from Japanese prints in his paintings. In a self portrait he made himself look like a Japanese Buddhist monk. He called southern France a "second Japan." Use haiku, the Japanese poetry form, to express your thoughts or feelings about Vincent's Madame Roulin and Baby Marcelle.

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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