Each member of the Roulin family is represented in dark striking primary colors, as far as their clothing is concerned which then blends with contrasting backgrounds that correspond with different hues on the palette. In this painting, the subjects are rendered in shades of pale olive green and submissive ivory white with blue contours and a yellow base. These colors that belong to the same family are suggestive of the closeness between a mother and her child. (Thompson 90)
This portrait was painted during a winter spell in late November, where Van Gogh, succumbed to the bitterness of the season, had to withdraw to indoor locations. However, he channeled his profuse talent towards painting portraits of his friends’ family. He rendered around three more paintings of Madame Roulin which are currently part of the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Stedelijk Museum respectively. (Wikipedia 2010)
In the early1900s, Vladimir Lenin envisioned imperialism to improve and restructure the hardship behind the working class life in advanced countries. The Working Class was severely overworked and the glacial temperature made it all the more hard for them to sustain a family and divest a hefty portion of their energies at the same time. The Roulin family was an exact depiction of the working class and Van Gogh has been able to depict the facial work, the mannerisms, the age-old wrinkles that bog down Joseph and Augustine’s sullen faces and the concept of more children; effectively in the portfolio dedicated to them.
During that time, the Napoleonic wars had robbed the nation of its progress, slowed industrialization and stunted the growth of France’s infantile economy in the 1830s. It could not be developed adequately to sustain an industrial expansion of any kind.
Since its inception, France had been an internally-divided nation that maintained differences on the basis of religion, class, regionalisms and money, and on the international frontage it came repeatedly to the brink of war with many other imperial powers. (Weber 1979)
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