Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh : 14 May
Vincent Van Gogh's Letters to His Brother Contain Life Advice Everyone Should including Van Gogh's hope of discovering his life path, his relationship with his A year later, in another letter to Theo, Van Gogh again made reference to the. Read the story and discover the special relationship between Vincent and his brother Theo. On Theo's advice, he finally decided to become an artist. A new collection of Van Gogh's letters redefines our view of the artist, The tensions the letters expose in their relationship – Vincent accuses Theo of not until quite late on, Theo saw his brother's art essentially as therapy.
Vincent van Gogh painted Long Grass with Butterflies in in the grounds of an asylum, where he was a patient. But he was not always well enough. During his bad periods he tried to stuff the paints into his mouth, washed down by turpentine — to poison himself with colour. Look at this painting in the light of those facts.
Picture the mental patient standing there, staring at the ground. Then look at what he sees.
Vincent Van Gogh's Letters to His Brother Contain Life Advice Everyone Should Follow
He sees grass as firm as flesh. He sees colours as full as the heart. To look at this painting is to look at something heroic. Nothing is braver than to confront illness as Van Gogh did. A troubled soul since his youth in southern Holland, someone whose family fretted that he could not find a place in the world, he ended up byin his 37th year, in the strangest and most tragic of situations.
He was increasingly recognised — at least among the Paris avant garde — as a brilliant artist. But he was also unquestionably ill. How did his art and illness interact? Was painting a potential cure, or a symptom? Van Gogh contemplated both possibilities. But what he did not do is give up. He looked with pity on other inmates who sat somnolently while he worked. This was no enlightened modern hospital but an asylum of the Victorian age, where the doctor who admitted Van Gogh inadequately diagnosed "epilepsy".
In that place he painted this rapturous garden. The curators of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam have worked for years on a new edition of his letters, five volumes of them, with facsimiles, English translations, copious illustrations: An exhibition, The Real Van Gogh: Reading the new edition of Van Gogh's letters from cover to cover turned out to be a shocking, upsetting, at times frustrating experience that destroyed my previous idea of this great artist. I had previously formed an almost reassuring view of Van Gogh as an intense, troubled, tragic, yet at the same time inspiring man.
The sheer mass of peculiarities and sadnesses makes him uttely real and — for all his genius — less easy to empathise with. His achievement was not to conquer illness, but to drag something out of its isolating darkness. Long before he became an artist, he was a writer. It does you a lot of good when you're out of spirits, as I quite often am nowadays.
His earliest surviving letters date fromwhen he was His very first, dated 29 Septemberis addressed to Theo — as is his last, dated 23 July He wrote to other people too — including artist friends such as Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, and his sister Wilhelmina, who was herself to spend decades in an asylum. Together these letters amount to a literary work of epic proportions. It's not just that Van Gogh wrote letters.
He poured his heart into them. Vincent's volatile personality put a strain on his relationship with Theo. When Vincent insisted on moving in with Theo, he did so with the hopes that they could better manage their expenses and that Vincent could more easily devote himself to his art. Unfortunately, living with his brother also resulted in a great deal of tension between the two.
In addition, Paris itself was not without its temptations and much of Vincent's two years there was spent in unhealthy extremes: As was often the case throughout his life, poor weather during the winter months left Vincent irritable and depressed. Never was Vincent more happy then when he was outdoors communing with nature when the weather was at its finest.
Whether painting or simply taking long walks, Vincent van Gogh lived for the sun. During the bleak winter months in Paris of Van Gogh became restless. And the same pattern was re-emerging. Van Gogh's two years in Paris had a tremendous impact on his ongoing evolution as an artist.
But he had acquired what he was seeking and it was time to move on. Never truly happy in large cities, Vincent decided to leave Paris and follow the sun, and his destiny, south. The Studio of the South Vincent van Gogh moved to Arles in early propelled by a number of reasons. Weary of the frenetic energy of Paris and the long months of winter, Van Gogh sought the warm sun of Provence.
Another motivation was Vincent's dream of establishing a kind of artists' commune in Arles where his comrades in Paris would seek refuge and where they would work together and support each other toward a common goal.
Van Gogh took the train from Paris to Arles on 20 February heartened by his dreams for a prosperous future and amused by the passing landscape which he felt looked more and more Japanese the further south he travelled. No doubt Van Gogh was disappointed with Arles during his first few weeks there.
In search of the sun, Vincent found Arles unusually cold and dusted with snow. This must have been discouraging to Vincent who had left everyone he knew behind in order to seek warmth and restoration in the south. Still, the harsh weather was short lived and Vincent began to paint some of the best loved works of his career. Once the temperature had risen, Vincent wasted no time in beginning his labours outdoors. Note the two complimentary works: The drawing was produced in March and the trees and landscape appear somewhat bleak after winter.
The painting, however, executed a month later shows the very first spring buds on the trees. During this time Van Gogh painted a series of blossoming orchards. Vincent was pleased with his productivity and, like the orchards, felt renewed. The months to follow would be happy ones. Vincent wouldn't actually move into the Yellow House until September, in preparation for establishing it as the base for his "Studio of the South.
Van Gogh: in his own words | Art and design | The Guardian
Van Gogh is often perceived today as an irritable and solitary figure. But he really did enjoy the company of people and did his best during these months to make friends--both for companionship and also to pose as much valued models. Vincent never lost hope in the prospect of establishing the artists' commune and began a campaign to encourage Paul Gauguin to join him in the south. The prospect appeared unlikely, however, because Gauguin's relocation would require even more financial assistance from Theo who had reached his limit.
This financial influx would enable Theo to sponsor Gauguin's move to Arles. Theo was motivated both as a concerned brother and also as a business man. Theo felt that Vincent would be happier and more stable in the company of Gauguin and also Theo had hopes that the paintings he would receive from Gauguin, in exchange for his support, would turn a profit.
Unlike Vincent, Paul Gauguin was beginning to see a small degree of success from his works. Despite the improved state of Theo's financial affairs, Vincent nevertheless remained true to form and spent a disproportionate amount of his money on art supplies instead of the basic necessities of life. Malnourished and overworked, Van Gogh's health declined early October, but he was heartened upon receiving confirmation that Gauguin would join him in the south.
Vincent worked hard to prepare the Yellow House in order to make Gauguin feel welcome. Gauguin arrived in Arles by train early on 23 October. The next two months would be pivotal, and disastrous, for both Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Initially Van Gogh and Gauguin got on well together, painting on the outskirts of Arles, discussing their art and differing techniques.
As the weeks passed, however, the weather deteriorated and the pair found themselves compelled to stay indoors more and more frequently. As always, Vincent's temperament and most likely Gauguin's as well fluctuated to match the weather. Forced to work indoors, Vincent's depression was assuaged, however, when he was encouraged and stimulated by a series of portraits he undertook.
Those paintings, of the Roulin familyremain among his best loved works. The relationship between Van Gogh and Gauguin deteriorated throughout December, however.
Vincent Van Gogh's Letters to His Brother Contain Life Advice Everyone Should Follow
Their heated arguments became more and more frequent--"electric" as Vincent would describe them. Relations between the pair declined in tandem with Vincent's state of mental health.
On 23 December Vincent van Gogh, in an irrational fit of madness, mutilated the lower portion of his left ear. He severed the lobe with a razor, wrapped it in cloth and then took it to a brothel and presented it to one of the women there. Vincent then staggered back to the Yellow House where he collapsed. After sending a telegram to Theo, Gauguin left immediately for Paris, choosing not to visit Van Gogh in the hospital.
Van Gogh and Gauguin would later correspond from time to time, but would never meet in person again. During his time in the hospital, Vincent was under the care of Dr.
The week following the ear mutilation was critical for Van Gogh--both mentally and physically. He had suffered a great deal of blood loss and continued to suffer serious attacks in which he was incapacitated. Theo, who had rushed down from Paris, was sure that Vincent would die, but by the end of December and the early days of January, Vincent made a nearly full recovery.
The first weeks of would not be easy for Vincent van Gogh. After his recovery, Vincent returned to his Yellow House, but continued to visit Dr. Rey for examinations and to have his head dressings changed. Vincent was encouraged by his progress after the breakdown, but his money problems continued and he felt particularly depressed when his close friend, Joseph Roulindecided to accept a better paying position and move with his family to Marseilles.
Roulin had been a dear and faithful friend to Vincent for most of his time in Arles. Vincent was quite productive in terms of his art throughout January and early February, producing some of his best known works such as La Berceuse and Sunflowers. On 7 February, however, Vincent suffered another attack in which he imagined himself being poisoned. Van Gogh was kept in the hospital for ten days, but returned once again to the Yellow House, provisionally: Vincent remained in the hospital for the next six weeks, but was allowed to leave on supervised outings--in order to paint and to put his possessions into storage.
It was a productive, but emotionally discouraging time for Van Gogh. As was the case a year before, Van Gogh returned to painting the blossoming orchards around Arles. Van Gogh left Arles on 8 May.
Confinement Upon arrival at the asylum, Van Gogh was placed in the care of Dr. After examining Vincent and reviewing the case, Dr. Peyron was convinced that his patient was suffering from a type of epilepsy--a diagnosis that remains among the most likely possibilities, even today. The asylum was by no means a "snake pit," but Van Gogh was disheartened by the cries of the other residents and the bad food. He found it depressing that the patients had nothing to do all day--no stimulation of any kind.
Part of Van Gogh's treatment included "hydro-therapy", a frequent immersion in a large tub of water. While this "therapy" was certainly not cruel in any way, neither was it in the least beneficial in terms of helping to restore Vincent's mental health.
As the weeks passed, Vincent's mental well-being remained stable and he was allowed to resume painting. The staff was encouraged by Van Gogh's progress or, at least, at his not suffering any additional attacks and in mid-June Van Gogh produced his best known work: Van Gogh's relatively tranquil state of mind didn't last, however, and he was incapacitated by another attack in mid-July.
During this attack Vincent tried to ingest his own paints and for that reason he was confined and not given access to his materials. Although he recovered fairly quickly from the incident, Van Gogh was discouraged at being deprived of the one thing that gave him pleasure and distraction: After another week, Dr.
Peyron relented and agreed to allow Van Gogh to resume his painting. His resumption of work coincided with an improved mental state. Vincent sent Theo letters detailing his precarious state of health; while at the same time Theo had similar issues to deal with. Theo's health had often been delicate and he had been ill throughout much of early For two months Van Gogh was unable to leave his room and wrote to his sister: He expressed these thoughts to Theo who began to make inquiries of possible alternatives for Vincent's medical care--this time much closer to Paris.
Van Gogh's mental and physical health remained fairly stable throughout the remainder of Theo's health had recovered for the most part and, in the midst of preparing a home with his new wife, Theo was also assisting Octave Maus who was organizing an exhibition, Les XX, in Brussels in which six of Vincent's paintings would be displayed.
Vincent seemed enthusiastic about the venture and remained quite productive throughout this time. The ongoing correspondence between Vincent and Theo worked out many of the details surrounding Vincent's showing within the exhibit. On 23 Decembera year to the day after the ear slashing incident, Vincent suffered another attack: The attack was serious and lasted about a week, but Vincent recovered reasonably quickly and resumed painting--this time mainly copies of other artists' works, due to being confined inside, both because of his mental health and also because of the weather.
The rest - what happened to the woman - I don't know. Since you were a minor, Father had every right to step between the two of you and I can understand why he did it. Now the difference between your case and mine is that in the first place you and she were considerably younger than Xtien and I, and secondly, your future and mine are different, that is, I for my part ply a humble trade and you hold a position which of necessity requires you to keep up a certain style. This is all clear enough, it seems to me, and also that being a minor you were right to obey, while I for my part, being of age, am at liberty to say to Father: Now, you say that what has happened between Xtien and me does not mean I have to marry her.
This is what Xtien and I think about it: We want there to be nothing false in our position and consider marriage the only radical means of stopping the world talking and of seeing to it that we are not … reproached with an illicit relationship. If we do not get married, they could indeed say that something or other is wrong - if we do get married we shall be very poor and give up any social pretenses, but our action will be right and honourable.
You will understand this, I think. Brother, I'm well aware of that, you are right, but, my dear fellow, what I would find even worse would be the feeling deep down inside of: Once again, if my staying in The Hague should bother anyone, please say so frankly, I am only too happy to yield on all matters concerning a home or the like. I need a studio, a living room and a bedroom, and though I am not indifferent as to whether that will be in The Hague or elsewhere, I shall be happy to show willing.
However it must all be discussed quite differently from, for example, the way Father did on the Gheel occasion. Should it be possible for me to have, say, 50 frs. Were I to be told for certain that you are withdrawing your support, I should be rendered powerless.Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo
With the best will in the world my hand would become paralysed - everything would indeed be dreadful then, yes, everything would be terrible. What satisfaction would that give you or anyone else? I should become downhearted and it would go hard with Christien and the child. Though it hangs over my head, I can say nothing other than: I have pledged Xtien my troth and she has pledged me hers, and we do not have it in us to break this pledge.
And yet - confound it - what's happening? Don't let them confuse you or sway you with their Jesuitisms. Do I deserve being left in the lurch by you because I have helped a pregnant woman and will not send her back on to the streets? Is that a capital offence??? Ever yours, Vincent P.
Xtien and the child won't be able to pose headless either. At this time, Vincent was 29 year old Source: Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 14 May in The Hague.