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Early Paintings by Vincent van Gogh

Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh’s Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette is an oil on canvas (12-1/2x9-1/2 inches) housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Vincent van Gogh painted Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette from 1885 to 1886. The painting was created while van Gogh was a student at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp, Belgium.

To improve his command of the human figure, Vincent attended life classes at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, where a skeleton was used to study anatomy. The burning cigarette placed between the teeth of this bare skull typifies the irreverent humor that often reigned among art students, but the striking feature of this painting is van Gogh's vital and confident handling of a complex subject.

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Vincent van Gogh completed one of his first self-portraits in 1886. Keep reading to learn about this painting.

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