Once is not customary : Vincent makes a good decision. At the end of November 1885 he comes to live in Antwerp. He frenziedly visits wharves, cafes, and the museums where he discovers the skills of Rubens.
As always girls are reluctant to pose for him. With a little money sent by Theo, he manages to pay for a sitting session a dancer of one of the main cafés-concerts of Antwerp.
The expressive face of the girl pleases the artist. She speaks a little : her job as a dancer and escort is tiring and champagne makes her sad. Vincent now has all the elements to bring psychological depth into a portrait. With this highly appreciated theme, his career may start.
Painted in December 1885 in Antwerp, Portrait of a woman with a red ribbon, left profile, oil on canvas 60 x 50 cm, is estimated £ 8M for sale by Christie's in London on February 27, lot 15. The slightly open mouth reveals the sensuality of a melancholy song. The session was brief and the technique is fast and spontaneous. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Many works painted by Vincent in Antwerp and attested in his letters to Theo disappeared, probably early scrapped. Vincent is rightly satisfied with his portrait of a cabaret girl that he will offer two years later to the very young Emile Bernard, probably in an exchange against brothel scenes.
The boss of the dancer did not like her escapade and she will not see the artist again. Vincent did not identify her name in his letters to Theo : like the peasants of Nuenen, she was for him a pictorial type, not a person. Appreciating that he has just entered modern art, Vincent arrives in Paris at the end of February 1886 with the desire to discover the Impressionist painting.