Julien Tanguy’s (1825–1894) little painting supply shop was well known in the Parisian art world of the 1880s. Numerous artists bought paint and canvases from the popular dealer, whom they called Père Tanguy. The shop was a lively meeting point, and it was an important place for Vincent. There he bought art supplies and met people including the artist Émile Bernard, who became a close friend. Vincent also struck up a friendship with Tanguy and painted three portraits of him.
Tanguy exhibited work by contemporary artists in the shop’s interior and front window and sold some on consignment. Vincent’s art was displayed in the shop from September 1886, and at least one of his paintings hung in the window in July 1887. He is known to have sold at least one painting through Tanguy during his time in Paris. His work was also exhibited by two other dealers, Pierre Firmin Martin and George Thomas. There was probably a fourth, but the person’s identity is unknown; it may have been Alphonse Portier, who lived in Vincent’s apartment building.
Vincent often asked after Tanguy in letters sent to his brother Theo from Arles. Vincent was so fond of Tanguy that he preferred to buy paint from him even though its quality was inferior to that sold by Tasset et Lhôte, another supplier Vincent often used. Because of the variance in quality, when he made his orders, he specified which colours he was and was not willing to buy from Tanguy’s “pathetic” shop.
In 1889, when Theo moved from Rue Lepic to the apartment at cité Pigalle where he and Jo van Gogh-Bonger would live together after their wedding, he was unable to take Vincent’s paintings with him and therefore rented storage space from Tanguy. The works remained there until Theo’s death in 1890.