Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
Still life of three pairs of worn black shoes sitting diagonally in a row on a white cloth.

The earthy still life depicts six well-worn worker shoes. The shoe in the center is the only one that’s upside down, revealing the underside of the sole and heel with several nails along its outer edge. The others all point to the right. The first shoe’s top is folded over to reveal a tan interior. The other shoes are in various stages of being untied. Light falls on all from the top. The pronounced brush strokes are rich with textures and follow the surfaces of every shape in the painting, giving the shoes a sculpted look.

Gallery Text

Made at a time when Van Gogh was deeply engaged with still life, this composition is painted over another image of a large bouquet of flowers in a vase. It is one of a series of five paintings of shoes by the artist. Their arrangement in a diagonal line lends the scene a sense of balance, while the playful individuality of each boot adds rhythmic movement to the composition. Placed on a white cloth, the shoes operate within the still life tradition, but the distinctive character of each one, and their recognizable identity as part of the attire of Parisian laborers, evokes comparisons to portraiture. The figural aspects of the shoes are enhanced by Van Gogh’s singular application of paint, notably the sculptural impasto, which gives vitality to details such as the nail heads in the heel of the central shoe.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Vincent van Gogh, Dutch (Groot Zundert (Zundert), The Netherlands 1853 - 1890 Auvers-sur-Oise, France)
Three Pairs of Shoes
Work Type
Creation Place: Europe, Netherlands
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
49.8 x 72.5 cm (19 5/8 x 28 9/16 in.)
framed: 72.2 x 95.5 x 6.5 cm (28 7/16 x 37 5/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: incised at l.c.: Vincent
  • inscription: u.r., on canvas, incised: VINCENT
  • inscription: On stretcher, in white chalk: (Wildenstein)
  • inscription: On stretcher, in white chalk: 7-10
  • inscription: On stretcher, in white chalk: LABELS
  • inscription: On stretcher, in blue pencil: 30G


Recorded Ownership History
Vincent van Gogh; ? to his nephew Vincent Willem van Gogh; ? to his mother Mme. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, sold; [through Drouot, Paris, 1920, no. 62]; [to Joseph Hessel Art Gallery, Paris] (1920-1925) sold; to Marcel Kapferer, 1925-1943, sold; [through Wildenstein, New York]; to Maurice Wertheim, New York (1943-1951) bequest; to Fogg Art Museum 1951.

According to his daughter, in about 1939 Kapferer gave this painting and three others to Wildenstein to be sent to their New York offices,(inventory KR 10.) He later consigned them for sale.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • Vincent van Gogh, exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1905), no. 72
  • Vincent van Gogh, exh. cat., Paul Cassirer Gallery (Berlin, Germany, 1914), no. 40
  • Vincent van Gogh, Exposition retrospective de son oeuvre, exh. cat., Galerie Marcel Bernheim (Paris, France, 1925), no. 5
  • [Unidentified article], L'Amour de l'Art (March 1926), vol. 7, repr. p. 9?
  • Vincent van Gogh: L'époque française, exh. cat., Galerie Bernheim Jeune (Paris, France, 1927)
  • Victor Doiteau and Edgard Leroy, La Folie de Vincent van Gogh, Editions Aesculape (Paris, France, 1928), repr. p. 17
  • Vincent van Gogh en zijn Tijdgenooten, exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1930), no. 20
  • [Unidentified article], L'Amour de l'Art (April1937), vol. 8, repr. no. 132
  • Exposition Internationale: van Gogh, exh. cat. (Paris, France, 1937), no. 132, repr. p. 32?
  • Vincent van Gogh, sa vie et son oeuvre, Nouveaux Musées (Paris, France, 1937), no. 132
  • J. B. de la Faille, Vincent van Gogh, French and European Publications Inc. (New York, NY, 1939), repr. p. 197
  • "The Art & Life of Vincent van Gogh", Art Digest (October 1, 1943), vol. XVIII, repr. p. 16
  • John Alford, "Van Gogh and Life: A New View", Art News (October 15, 1943 - October 31, 1943), vol. XLII, no. 2, pp. 8-17, repr. p. 10
  • The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh, exh. cat., Wildenstein Galleries (New York, NY, 1943), no. 7
  • Alfred M. Frankfurter, "Today's Collectors: Modern Milestones", Art News (June 1946), vol. XLV, no. 4, p. 64, repr. in b/w p. 31
  • French Painting since 1870, lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), pp. 26-29, repr.
  • 21 Masterpieces of Great Masters, auct. cat., Rosenberg Gallery (New York, NY, 1948), repr. p. 39
  • Six Masters of Post-Impressionism, exh. cat., Wildenstein & Company (New York, NY, 1948), no. 65
  • La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), no. 13, pp. 35-37
  • Martha Simpson, Art is for Everyone, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY, 1951), repr.
  • "19th and 20th Century Art", Think (September 1952), pp. 18-19, 32, repr.
  • Howard Devree, "By French Masters: The Metropolitan Shows Wertheim Collection", The New York Times (New York, NY, July 6 1952), p. 6, p. 6
  • Frederick S. Wight, Van Gogh, Beechhurst Press (New York, NY, 1953), repr.?
  • Howard Devree, "By French Masters: Memorable Loan Show in Philadelphia", The New York Times (New York, NY, July 7 1957), p. 70, p. 70
  • John Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art, Henry Holt and Co. (New York, NY, 1959), p. 367, repr. p. 368
  • The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 16, repr. p. 17
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 20, pl. 5
  • Meyer Schapiro, "The Still Life as a Personal Object - A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh", The Reach of Mind: Essays in Memory of Kurt Goldstein, ed. M. L. Simmel (New York, NY, 1968), p. 205
  • A. Kitzhaber, Oregon Curriculum: Literature, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY, 1968), repr.
  • Jacob Baart de la Faille, The Works of Vincent Van Gogh, His Paintings and Drawings, Reynal (New York, NY, 1970), no. 332
  • Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, [Unidentified article], Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1971 or later), repr., with x-ray
  • Paolo Lecaldano, L'Opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy, 1971), repr. in vol. I, p. 112, no. 324
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), no. 38
  • Brian Petrie, Van Gogh: paintings, drawings and prints, Phaidon Press (London, England, 1974), repr. in color p. 44
  • Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, Vincent van Gogh, his Paris Period, 1886-1888, Editions Victorine (Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1976), p. 139
  • Jacques Derrida, "Restitutions de la verité en peinture", Macula, 3/4 (1978), p. 25, repr.
  • John A. Walker, "Art History versus Philosophy: The Enigma of the 'Old Shoes' ", Block (1980), no. 2, p. 16
  • Jan Hulsker, The Complete van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches (New York, NY, 1980), no. 1234
  • Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), repr. in b/w p. 338
  • John A. Walker, Van Gogh Studies: Five Critical Essays, JAW Publications (London, England, 1981), repr. in b/w fig. 80, p. 62
  • Ronald Pickvance, Van Gogh in Arles, exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art / Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1984), p. 36
  • Bruce Bernard, ed., Vincent by Himself: A Selection of van Gogh's Paintings and Drawings together with Extracts from his Letters, Little, Brown & Company (Boston, MA, 1985), repr. in color p. 162
  • John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 18, pp. 88-90, repr. in color p. 89
  • Van Gogh a Paris, exh. cat., Editions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 1988), no. 13, pp. 64-65, repr. in color p. 65
  • David Freedberg, The Power of Images, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL and London, England, 1989), repr. in b/w p. 441
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 110; repr. as no. 385
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color no. 27, p. 85
  • James A. Ganz, "Jules Jacquemart: Forgotten Printmaker of the Nineteenth Century", Bulletin of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA, Spring 1991), vol. LXXXVII, no. 370, repr. in b/w fig. 21, p. 15; text p. 14
  • Jan Hulsker, The New Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches: Revised and enlarged, J. M. Meulenhoff (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1996), p. 272, no. 1234, repr.
  • Eliza E. Rathbone and George T.M. Shackelford, Impressionist Still Life, exh. cat., The Phillips Collection (Washington, DC, 2001), pp. 154, 156, 218-219; repr. in color p. 157 as pl. 69
  • Babette Babich, "From Van Gogh's Museum to the Temple at Bassae: Heidegger's Truth of Art and Schapiro's Art History", Culture, Theory and Critique (2003), 44, no. 2, pp. 151-169, repr. p. 157 as fig. 2
  • Michael Kelly, Iconoclasm in Aesthetics, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, U.K., 2003), pp. 51-52; repr. in b/w p. 45 as fig. 2
  • Bob Raczka, More than Meets the Eye: Seeing Art with All Five Senses, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT, 2003), repr. in color, p. 18
  • Martin Bailey, "A Friend of Van Gogh: Dodge Macknight and the Post-Impressionists", Apollo (July - August 2007), CLXVI no. 545, pp. 28-34, p. 31, note 9
  • Alec Mishory, Still Life: From Represented Objects to Real Objects, Open University of Israel (Israel, 2008), p. 252, fig. 220
  • Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Miller, ed., Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art / Yale University Press (New York, 2009), p. 194, repr. in b/w p. 194 as fig. 143
  • Bettina Gockel, "'...und zuletzt nahm sie einen Schuh vom Vatter zum ihn abmalen, weil ihr nicht einfiel was sonst malen.' Schuhe als Ursprungsmythos der modernen Kunst", Zurich Studies in the History of Art (2010/2011), 17/18, pp. 665-688, p. 673, repr. p. 670 as fig. 6b
  • Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6
  • Jan Zachariáš, "Vincent van Gogh's 'A Pair of Shoes': An Attempt at an Interpretation", Umení (Prague, 2014), vol. LXII, no. 4, pp. 354-70, pp. 356, 358, fig. 2
  • Gian Casper Bott, "Die Opfer der Arbeit. Vincenzo Velas Meisterwerk und die leidende Menschheit", Casa d'artisti: Die Opfer der Arbeit von Vincenzo Vela, 1882: Entstehung und Rezeptiongeschichte eines Meisterwerks, Museo Vincenzo Vela (2016), No. 7, pp. 45-83, pp. 55-56, repr. p. 55 as Abb. 7
  • Gian Casper Bott, Le vittime del lavoro. L'umanità sofferente nel capolavoro di Vnenco Vela, Confederazione Svizzera (Bern, 2016), pp. 50-51, repr. p. 51, fig. 7
  • Antoine de Baecque, Les godillots: Manifeste pour une histoire marchée, Anamosa (Paris, 2017), p. 139, repr.
  • Wayne Tunnicliffe, John Russell: Australia's French Impressionist, exh. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales and Thames & Hudson (Sydney, 2018), p. 113, repr. p. 114
  • Marleen van Aert-Francken, Vincent van Gogh, herinneringen aan zijn jongensjaren, Schrijverspunt (2023), p. 104, repr.

Exhibition History

  • Unidentified Exhibition, Stedelijk Museum, 1905, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 07/01/1905 - 08/31/1905
  • Retrospective, Marcel Bernheim Art Gallery, Paris, 01/01/1925 - 01/31/1925
  • Unidentified Exhibition, Galerie Bernhaim, 1927, Galerie Bernheim Jeune, Paris, 06/01/1927 - 07/31/1927
  • Van Gogh en zijn tijdgenooten, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 01/01/1930 - 12/31/1930
  • Unidentified Exhibition, Exposition Internationale van Gogh, 1937, Exposition Internationale: van Gogh, Paris, 01/01/1937 - 12/31/1937
  • The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 10/06/1943 - 11/07/1943
  • French Painting since 1870 lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1946 - 09/07/1946; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 07/01/1953 - 09/13/1953
  • Six Masters of Post-Impressionism, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 04/08/1948 - 05/08/1948
  • Twenty-One Masterpieces of Great Masters, Rosenberg Gallery, New York, 11/01/1948 - 11/30/1948
  • La Peinture Française depuis 1870, Musée de la Province de Quebec, 07/12/1949 - 08/07/1949
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 07/01/1952 - 09/14/1952
  • French Paintings Since 1870 from the Maurice Wertheim Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/01/1953 - 09/30/1953
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 06/15/1957 - 09/15/1957
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 06/10/1958 - 08/31/1958
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Modern French Art--Monet to Picasso, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 06/17/1960 - 09/04/1960
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 06/13/1962 - 09/02/1962
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 06/20/1963 - 09/01/1963
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, 06/24/1965 - 09/07/1965
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 09/03/1968 - 09/22/1968
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, 06/01/1971 - 09/30/1971
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Maine State Museum, Augusta, 06/01/1972 - 09/01/1972
  • Manet to Matisse: The Maurice Wertheim Collection, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 04/09/1985 - 05/25/1985
  • Van Gogh à Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 02/02/1988 - 05/15/1988
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990
  • Impressionist Still Life, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 02/17/2002 - 06/09/2002
  • Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 1220 Wertheim, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Articles

Related Works

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at