At the end of 1889, Vincent Van Gogh admits himself to the asylum in Saint-Rémy for a year after having a break-down and mutilating his ear. When his health did not permit him to leave the asylum, the artist concentrated on producing copies of paintings by well-known artists, while adding his own interpretation. Working in this way mainly enabled him to continue painting while in poor health by providing him with subject matter. Furthermore, he enjoyed the process of copying the work of other artists.
During his youth, Van Gogh amassed an extensive collection of woodcut prints, including Japanese prints in which he was deeply inspired from – just as many Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were.
The Drinkers is an example of one of these works, copying Honoré Daumier’s wood engraving The Psychology of a Drinker, The Four Ages. He depicts a scene with three men and a child drinking—each representing a different period of life. Of course, his version of Daumier’s print is twenty times bigger than the original.
The painting is marked by many kinds of contrasts. First of all, the three adult figures—young, mid-life and senior—along with the jar filled with alcohol, are much darker and captures the viewer's immediate attention. The three have dark contours that accentuate the folds of their clothes. The old man portrayed on the left is wearing a red shirt with a dark green jacket and a top hat. The middle-aged man next to him wears a blue shirt and also a black top hat. The youngest man wears a red hat that contrasts with his blue clothes.
In the bottom left there is a figure of an infant portrayed in shades of white, probably symbolizing purity, but is also drinking like the older men. The background is soft, with an ochre and yellow-orange field, along with a blue and white mixed sky that seems to reflect a bit of the yellow of the ground. There is a factory behind the figures, suggesting they are part of the working class. The green table contrasts with the the touch of orange found in the wheat field and is thought to represent absinthe; a drink Van Gogh had abused in the past.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of The Drinkers, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of The Drinkers that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.