Van Gogh’s Parisian period between 1886 – 1888 is known as one of his most important and creative stages. While in Paris, van Gogh studied painting and got to know the Impressionists. He visited exhibitions and along the way, gradually changed his style. It was out with the old [Dutch Realism] and in with the new, resulting in still lifes and everyday objects like a worn old pair of shoes.
The shoes he bought were rentals from the local market, but were too clean for the artist. Van Gogh then took a long walk down the street, dirtying up the shoes to have a more dramatic feel to them so they would be better suited to the idea of how a worn-in pair of shoes should look.
See more works by Vincent van Gogh here.