Van Gogh in Paris
In 1886, Vincent van Gogh arrives in Paris, the centre of the European art world at that time, where he becomes acquainted with the impressionists. Their painting technique and use of colour make a deep impression on him and he starts experimenting with colour and a looser brushstroke.
Influence of the impressionists
Recumbent nude is one of the first ‘studies’ he then painted. The influence of the impressionists is already immediately visible. The bright colours in particular are in sharp contrast to the darker works that he made in the Netherlands, such as The potato eaters. The recumbent nude is not exactly an idealized beauty. She is painted rather roughly, her face in particular is barely developed beyond a sketch.
Van Gogh presumably made three other, similar nudes in quick succession: a pencil drawing and two paintings. The same model appears to have posed in all the works. This is probably Agostina Segatori, owner of the café Le Tambourin on the Boulevard du Clichy, with whom Van Gogh had a brief relationship.