In January 1891, six months after Vincent’s death, his brother Theo died. Theo’s young wife Johanna was advised to get rid of her brother-in-law’s works and take her son, Vincent Willem, back to the Low Countries.
This selection of letters and paintings – Vincent wrote 821 letters, of which 668 were to his brother, and left over 1300 paintings – aims to repropose the encounter with Vincent Van Gogh, because while his works are among the best known and loved all over the world, his personality is often portrayed in a confused light, and perhaps betrayed by the legends that have grown around the extreme poverty he lived in and the tragic illness of his last years.
Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 in Holland. At the age of 16 he left school and went to work as a shop assistant at Goupil Maison d’art, first in Aja and then in Paris and London. In 1876, he went back to Holland, and, after teaching for a short while, decided to follow the religious vocation of a pastor, and studied accordingly for the entrance examination to the Faculty of Theology. He was not accepted.Vincent moved to Belgium,to the Borinage, where he was nominated for a post as a lay Evangelist in a mining village. Shaken by their poverty, he attended to them with such zeal as to alarm his superiors, who released him from his engagement. Van Gogh carried on his work in conditions of complete destitution.
This letter is from in October 1879, when Vincent is 26 years old. He writes to Theo to thank him for visiting him.