Dr. PAUL FERDINAND GACHET (French / 1828-1909)

Dr Paul-Ferdinand Gachet is an important figure in the history of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism for several reasons. Most famously, Vincent Van Gogh was under Paul Gachet's care when he killed himself. It was during this period that Vincent made his only etching, a portrait of Dr Gachet (see our "artist photo"). Paul Gachet had been recommended to Theo Van Gogh by Camille Pissarro, who had been friendly with Gachet since the dawn of Impressionism. Vincent wrote in a letter of 3 June 1890, "I have found a perfect friend in Dr Gachet, something like another brother - so alike are we physically, and mentally too." In his youth Paul Gachet was friends with Courbet, Manet, Daumier, Gautier, Bracquemond, Méryon, Bresdin and other artists and writers. One of Gachet's writer friends was Victor Hugo, and it was Hugo's secretary Richard Lesclide who gave Gachet's artistic dreams their chance to shine, in the short-lived 1870s journal Paris à l'eau-forte. This weekly journal with original etchings (overseen by Frédéric Regamey) began publication in April 1873. Although Impressionism did not officially start until the first Impressionist exhibition the following year (to which Paul Gachet lent Cézanne's sketch of A Modern Olympia from his personal collection), this little-known journal, Paris à l'eau-forte, was already championing the Impressionist aesthetic, publishing work by most of Manet's circle. Gachet's friends by this time included Pissarro, Cézanne, Guillaumin, Monet, and Renoir. Pissarro, Cézanne and Guillaumin learned the technique of etching from Gachet, and worked alongside him in his studio in Auvers-sur-Oise; the same studio in which, in 1890, Paul Gachet instructed Vincent Van Gogh in the art of etching. As an artist, Dr. Paul Gachet has been overshadowed by his famous friends, and by his role in the tragic end of Vincent Van Gogh. His paintings are often merely competent copies or pastiches of works by his friends, but his etchings are lively, personal, and full of the Impressionist impulse to capture the essence of a moment. As an artist, Paul Gachet adopted the pseudonym of Paul Van Ryssel (Ryssel being the Flemish for Gachet's home town of Lille); he often signed his etchings with the emblem of a duck. Many of his etchings were published in Paris à l'eau-forte, alongside the work of friends such as Armand Guillaumin, Félix Buhot and Henri Guérard. Dr. Gachet's own art collection was donated by his son, and is now housed in the Musée d'Orsay. An exhibition, Cézanne to Van Gogh: The Collection of Doctor Gachet, was shown at the Grand Palais in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, in 1999.

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Selected prints by Dr. PAUL FERDINAND GACHET

Notre-Dame de Paris, 1873
La Haute-Seine, 1874
Le chemin creux
d'Auvers, 1876

View all available prints by Dr. PAUL FERDINAND GACHET