So great living on London's doorstep! The National Gallery is so close to Charing Cross Station I decided to pop along and see the pair of paintings that have been hung side by side as a very interesting Compare and Contrast excercise. They very sensibly restrict the numbers who can enter the room at one time so there is a bit of a queue but I didn't have to wait too long. The earlier study which belongs to the National Gallery was painted just 5 months before the one that is on loan from Amsterdam. The back story is filled with poignancy. Van Gogh painted both of these to decorate the room in his home in Arles where his friend Gaugin was to stay. Sadly, they fell out and poor old Vincent subsequently spent a year in a mental asylum. It is terribly sad to think he made no money out of his art when alive and now they change hands for millions of pounds, dollars and yen. Especially when some artists just have to toss a dead cow in formaldehyde to earn seven figure amounts. If you saw one of these in Amsterdam and one in London you would swear they were identical but the later one is perhaps a touch brighter and more vivid shade of yellow and there are a few other subtle differences. There are two others that can be seen by the public - one in Munich and one in Philadelphia - and if I ever get the chance I will look at them more closely and with greater interest. They are there till April 27th.