Friends with: Shirley Jones, Angela Lansbury, Bea Arthur, Florence Henderson, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Danny Thomas, Buddy Ebsen, Bill Cullen, Wink Martindale, Michele Lee, Hope Lange, Larry Hagman, Pernell Roberts, Robert Fuller, Angie Dickinson, Debbie Reynolds, James Garner, Andy Griffith, Michael Landon, Dick Van Patten, and wife Pat Van Patten, his brother Jerry Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Maureen Stapleton, Betsy Palmer, Piper Laurie, Mickey Rooney, Rose Marie, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Mary Tyler Moore, Julie Andrews, Richard Deacon, Morey Amsterdam, Warren Beatty, Fred Silverman, Dean Hargrove, Joyce Burditt, Christian I. Nyby II, Sheldon Leonard, Richard M. Sherman, Betty White, William Shatner, Dick Martin, Jean Stapleton, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, Bill Cosby, Robert Wagner, Don Rickles, Rosie O'Donnell and Jerry Paris.
The portraits gave Van Gogh his best opportunity to earn. He believed they were "the only thing in painting that moves me deeply and that gives me a sense of the infinite." He wrote to his sister that he wished to paint portraits that would endure, and that he would use colour to capture their emotions and character rather than aiming for photographic realism. Those closest to Van Gogh are mostly absent from his portraits; he rarely painted Theo, Van Rappard or Bernard. The portraits of his mother were from photographs.
In 1892 Émile Bernard organised a small solo show of Van Gogh's paintings in Paris, and Julien Tanguy exhibited his Van Gogh paintings with several consigned from Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. In April 1894 the Durand-Rue Gallery in Paris agreed to take 10 paintings on consignment from Van Gogh's estate. In 1896, the Fauvist painter Henri Matisse, then an unknown art student, visited John Peter Russell on Belle Île off Brittany. Russell had been a close friend of Van Gogh; he introduced Matisse to the Dutchman's work, and gave him a Van Gogh drawing. Influenced by Van Gogh, Matisse abandoned his earth-coloured palette for bright colours.