Always an avid reader, Vincent van Gogh was inspired by Pierre Loti's novel Madame Chrysantheme to paint a portrait of a mousmé. The result is van Gogh's La Mousmé, Sitting, which he painted in 1888.
Van Gogh explained in a letter to his brother Theo that a mousmé was a young Japanese girl. Loti's novel describes the temporary marriage of a French sailor to a young Japanese woman. In his painting, van Gogh sought a sitter -- young, comely, and modest -- who embodied the characteristics Loti portrayed in his title character.
Vincent van Gogh painted Self-Portrait with Pipe and Straw Hat near the end of his summer in Arles, France. Keep reading to learn about this painting.