Art: Getting to know the real Van Gogh
5 October 2009
After 15 years’ research into Vincent van Gogh’s letters, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Huygens Institute in The Hague are now putting out a book entitled Vincent Van Gogh – The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition. There was no dearth of material, says Trouw: the Dutch post-impressionist left behind 902 letters, each of which has now been re-dissected and re-analysed to reveal the “real” Vincent in a six-volume set of over 2,000 pages, published in Dutch, English (2164 pp. plus a CD-ROM, published by Thames & Hudson) and French versions. This painstaking scrutiny has yielded “a far more nuanced image” of the painter than the myth that has grown up around him over time. Apparently, “Van Gogh was not as poor or as mad as all that, and he did enjoy some recognition, even if not from the public at large,” explains the Amsterdam daily. The research on his letters, “those literary gems” with their wealth of biblical, literary and artistic allusions, has also given rise to the creation of a multilingual scholarly website: www.vangoghletters.org. From 8 October all the letters will be accessible online, in facsimile and in English translation, replete with a sophisticated search engine for in-depth exploration of Vincent’s epistolary universe.