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Beyond the sunflowers, irises and portrait of Doctor Gachet, there is the man Van Gogh, signified by his fragility and talent. From his birth in 1853 to his death in 1890, the Post-Impressionist Van Gogh shaped 19th century concepts of painting, with his creativity and technique. He became a forerunner of the Expressionists, the Fauves and Modern art. Today, however, Van Gogh remains the symbol of a painter tortured by illness, by others and, above all, by himself.Explore the world of Post-Impressionism with a beautiful collection of paintings from this creative genius. The vibrant colours and whimsical brushstrokes within the paintings provide an insight into the volatile nature of Van Gogh’s state of mind.



Publié par
Date de parution 04 juillet 2023
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783104321
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

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Vincent van Gogh
Text: Victoria Charles
Page layout: Stephanie Angoh
© Confidential Concepts, Worldwide, USA
© Parkstone Press USA, New York
© Image Bar www.image-bar.com
ISBN: 978-1-78310-432-1
All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or adapted without the permission of the copyright holder, throughout the world.
Unless otherwise specified, copyright on the works reproduced lies with the respective photographers. Despite intensive research, it has not always been possible to establish copyright ownership. Where this is the case, we would appreciate notification.
“As through a looking glass, by dark reason…”
Holland, England and Belgium: 1853–1886 “Feeling nowhere so much myself a stranger as in my family and country…”
Paris: 1886-1888 “The spreading of ideas”
Arles: 1888-1889 “An artists’ house”
Arles: 1889 “I was a fool and everything I did was wrong”
Saint-Rémy: 1889-1890 “What is the good of getting better?”
Auvers-sur-Oise: 1890 “But there’s nothing sad in this death…”
Index of works reproduced
“As through a looking glass, by dark reason…”
He sat on that chair. His pipe lies on a reed seat next to an open tobacco pouch. He slept in that bed, lived in that house. It was there that he cut off a piece of his ear. We see him with a bandaged head, the pipe in the corner of his mouth, looking at us.
Vincent van Gogh’s life and work are so intertwined that it is hardly possible to see his pictures without reading in them the story of his life: a life which has been described so many times that it is by now the stuff of legend. Van Gogh is the incarnation of the suffering, misunderstood martyr of modern art, the emblem of the artist as an outsider.
In 1996, Jan Hulsker, the famous van Gogh scholar, published a corrected catalogue of the complete works in which he questioned the authenticity of 45 paintings and drawings. What concerned Hulsker were not only the forgeries, but also canvases which were falsely attributed to van Gogh. In a similar vein, the British art historian Martin Bailey claimed to have recognized more than one hundred false ‘van Goghs,’ among them the Portrait of Dr. Gachet which exists in two versions. One of these was purchased in 1990 by a Japanese industrialist for 82.5 million dollars – the highest price ever paid for a painting. The new owner then shocked the public by announcing that after his death he wanted to be burned with the picture. Out of respect for the feelings of European art lovers, he later changed his mind and decided to build a museum to house his collection. If someone should prove that the Portrait of Dr. Gachet is a fake, however, public interest in this painting would disappear.
It became apparent early on that the events of van Gogh’s life would play a major role in the reception of his works. The first article about the painter was published in January 1890 in the Mercure de France . The author of the article, Albert Aurier, was in contact with a friend of van Gogh named Emile Bernard, from whom he learned the details of van Gogh’s illness. At the time, van Gogh was living in a mental hospital in Saint-Rémy, near Arles. The year before, he had cut off a piece of his right ear. Without explicitly revealing these facts from the artist’s life, Aurier nevertheless introduced his knowledge of the apparent insanity of the painter into his discussion of the paintings themselves. Thus, for example, he used terms like “obsessive passion” [1] and “persistent preoccupation.” [2] Van Gogh seemed to him a “terrible and demented genius, often sublime, sometimes grotesque, always at the brink of the pathological.” [3] Aurier regarded the painter as a “Messiah […] who would regenerate the decrepitude of our art and perhaps of our imbecile and industrialist society.” [4]
With this characterization of the artist as a mad genius, the critic laid the foundation for the van Gogh myth which began to emerge shortly after the death of the painter. After all, Aurier did not believe that van Gogh would ever be understood by the general public: “But whatever happens, even if it became fashionable to buy his canvases – which is unlikely – at the prices of M. Meissonier’s little infamies, I don’t think that much sincerity could ever enter into that belated admiration of the general public.” [5]
A few days after van Gogh’s funeral in Auvers-sur-Oise, Dr. Gachet, who looked after the painter at the end of his life, wrote to van Gogh’s brother Theo: “This sovereign contempt for life, doubtless a result of his impetuous love of art, is extraordinary […] If Vincent were still alive, it would take years and years until the human art triumphed. His death however, is, so to speak, the glorious result of the fight between two opposed principles: light and darkness, life and death.” [6]
Van Gogh neither despised life nor was he its master. In his letters, nearly seven hundred of which have been published, he often wrote about his desire for love and safety: “I should like to be with a woman for a change, I cannot live without love, without a woman. I would not value life at all, if there were not something infinite, something deep, something real.” [7] On several occasions he stressed that it would be “more worthwhile to make children than pictures.” [8]
Van Gogh’s rather bourgeois dreams of hearth and home never materialized. His first love, Ursula Loyer, married someone else. His cousin Kee, already a mother and widow, refused him partly for material reasons: van Gogh was unable to care for her and her child. He tried to build up a family life with a prostitute named Sien. He finally left her because his brother Theo, on whom he depended financially, wanted him to end the relationship. Van Gogh’s relationship with the twenty-one-year-old Marguerite Gachet is only known by rumour: a friend of Marguerite maintained that they had fallen in love, but the usually freethinking Dr. Gachet barred van Gogh from then on.
Van Gogh not only sought the love of women, but also that of his family and friends, although he never achieved it in the measure he would have wished. Several days before his suicide, he summed up his lifelong failure to find a satisfying intimacy in the following enigmatic remark: “As through a looking glass, by a dark reason – so it has remained.” [9] The parson’s son had taken his analogy from The Excellencies of Love in the first epistle to the Corinthians: “For now we see through a glass, darkly: but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
This longing for a place in the community and the struggle for renown are two themes which can be traced throughout van Gogh’s life.

Trunk of an Old Yew, Arles, 1888. Oil on canvas, 51 x 71 cm. Private collection.

1. Self-Portrait (dedicated to Paul Gauguin) , Arles: September 1888. Oil on canvas, 62 x 52 cm. Cambridge, Massachussetts: Fogg Art Museum, Havard University.

2. The Bedroom , Saint-Rémy: early September 1889. Oil on canvas, 73.6 x 92.3 cm. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago.

3. V incent’s House in Arles (The Yellow House) , Arles: September 1888. Oil on canvas, 72 x 92 cm. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Foundation van Gogh.

4. Vincent’s Chair with His Pipe , Arles: December 1888. Oil on canvas, 93 x 73.5 cm. London: National Gallery.

5. Paul Gauguin’s Armchair , Arles: December 1888. Oil on canvas, 90.5 x 72.5 cm. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Foundation Vincent van Gogh.
Holland, England and Belgium: 1853–1886 “Feeling nowhere so much myself a stranger as in my family and country…”
On March 30th, 1852, a dead son was born at the vicarage of Zundert, but a year later, on the same date, Anna van Gogh gave birth to a healthy boy. [10] Pastor Theodorus van Gogh gave his second born son the same name as the first: Vincent. When the second Vincent walked to his father’s church to attend services, he passed by the grave where ‘his’ name was written on a tombstone. In the last months of his life, van Gogh reminisced about the places of his childhood and often wistfully mentioned the graveyard of Zundert.
Very little is known about van Gogh as a child. A neighbour’s daughter described him as “kind-hearted, friendly, good, pitiful,” [11] while a former servant girl of the family reported that “Vincent had ‘oarige’ (funny, meaning unpleasantly eccentric) manners, and that he was often punished accordingly.” [12] Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, who met her brother-in-law only a few times near the end of his life, also described him as a difficult, naughty, and obstinate child who had been spoiled by over-indulgent parents. [13]
Similar inconsistencies appear in descriptions of van Gogh as an adult. Most of the descriptions were collected at the beginning of the 20th century by van Gogh-Bonger who took charge of van Gogh’s assets after Theo’s death in 1891. These accounts are somewhat dubious not only because of the distance of time, but also because the dead painter was by then already a figure of legend.
In general, van Gogh was kind and compassionate toward the poor or sick, and also to children. Another important trait that emerged early on, according to the artist’s sister Elisabeth Huberta, was his close relation to nature: “He knew the places where the rarest flowers bloomed […] as regards birds, he knew exactly where each nested or lived, and if he saw a pair of larks descend in the rye field, he knew how to approach their nest without snapping the surrounding blades or harming the birds in the least.” [14]
In his last years, van Gogh returned to the landscapes of his childhood through painting. “The whole south, everything became Holland for him,” [15] said Paul Gauguin of the paintings van Gogh made in Arles. In a letter to Emile Bernard, van Gogh compared the heath and flat landscape of the Carmargue with Holland. While staying in the mental hospit

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