Vincent van Gogh painted A Pair of Shoes in 1885. The painting's simple subject -- a pair of worn work boots -- gave van Gogh the opportunity to concentrate on the issues of color and brush stroke.
Van Gogh painted the boots in the dull browns of his Nuenen palette, but he set them against a fresh background of gold. He applied his paint thickly, leaving distinct brush strokes in the foreground and working a crosshatch pattern in the back, giving as much importance to his surface as his subject.
Learn how the Paris art community influenced van Gogh's The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry, the painting in the next section.