Another fieldwork stop on the Thanksgiving trip last week was the “Van Gogh Repetitions” exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC. When I read about it in October, I assumed all six known versions of the Postman portrait from six different museums would be on display. There were only three. There were no docents around, and there was nothing about the Postman in the gift shop except a cardboard beard. Wall text informed me that van Gogh experts are fascinated by the close alignment of facial features in the portraits; they think he must have used a drawing aid. I’d never thought of that. The experts say the only signed portrait was a gift to the postman himself. That’s the kind of thing I like to know. After that version they say he played around with the background and the decorative possibilities of the beard. I bought the cardboard beard but am not sure what to do with it.