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Styles and periods

NEW LETTERS CONCERNING VAN GOGH
Vincent Van Gogh sent some 800 letters to his brother Theo who was working for the Goupil art gallery which later became the Boussod, Valadon and Co. Between 1878 and 1891 the year of his death.

Now a series of important letters sent by Theo to Johanna Bonger, who was to become his wife, have been released in October 1999 by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

These letters are confirming that Vincent was rebellious against the society of his time and that he could not fit into a convenient mould which have been benefiting for his career.

Given to the museum by Vincent Willem Van Gogh, Johanna's son, shortly before his death in 1978, they reveal that Theo was much fond of his brother whom he also deeply admired.

Theo started to send letters to Johanna in 1887 and in one of these he told her in July of that year that he had a brother, five years older than he was, who was a painter. He added that Vincent had started to work for Goupil in 1872 and gave him a special love for art.

Theo stressed that Vincent had soon been become anguished as if he had been engulfed in some kind of turmoil. At the same time he noted that his brother was imposing himself a sacrifice as a result of his desire to help poor and unhappy people.

«Even those who loved him, including his father and mother, condemned him for showing such contempt vis-à-vis things and for refusing our society», Theo stressed.

He added in other letters sent in February 1889 that Vincent had told him he was ready to be put in a lunatic asylum if necessary while he had refused to lead a normal life. Theo noted also that many people thought Vincent was mad whereas many of his friends found it hard to understand him.

Vincent had had also a hard moment during his stay in Paris where models refused to sit for him. In addition he had such an irascible behaviour that he used to provoke quarrels that destabilised him. Still Theo thought his brother was an exceptional artist noting that many painters had produced true masterpieces after becoming mad.

In July 1890, Theo regretted in another letter that nobody was buying any of Vincent's works. «However one cannot drop him at a time when he is working so hard and so well,» he added.

On August 1st 1890, shortly after Vincent shot himself in the stomach, Theo wrote to Johanna that his brother was still alive when he arrived in Auvers. «I did not leave his bedside until the end... One of the last words he muttered was : 'it's like that that I wanted to go'... A moment later it's was over and he found peace...», he noted pathetically.

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