Vincent Van Gogh: A Self-portrait in Art and Letters

Front Cover
H. Anna Suh
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2006 - Art - 320 pages
1 Review
Throughout his life, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) wrote hundreds of letters, many to his brother Theo. Theo acted as patron, agent, and sounding board to the artist whose life was fraught with poverty, a struggle for recognition, and alternating fits of madness and lucidity. Van Gogh also corresponded with other family members and fellow artists, including his dear friends Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard. His letters, originally collected by Theo’s wife, Johanna, exhibit Van Gogh’s genius, his depth of observation, and his feelings in their most naked form.

In Vincent Van Gogh these letters have been excerpted, newly translated, and set side-by-side with more than 250 of his drawings and paintings. Van Gogh’s words and art illuminate each other and reveal a portrait of the artist as never seen before. The commentary of H. Anna Suh frames Van Gogh’s work and puts his art, letters, life, and struggles into rich context. The result is this timeless jewel of a collection, unlike any other Van Gogh book that has gone before.

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Vincent Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait in Art and Letters

User Review  - Nicole - Goodreads

Very worthy read. Many things I did not know about Van Gogh, and so much more interesting come from his own words (translated). Just FYI, it is an oversize book, so don't plan on reading it on the train! Read full review

Review: Vincent Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait in Art and Letters

User Review  - Kim Neve - Goodreads

I just picked this up at Half Price Books yesterday, and I am very glad that I did! It combines Van Gogh's letters to Theo with his sketches. Copies of the original letters are interspersed throughout ... Read full review

About the author (2006)

Vincent van Gogh was one of the great post-impressionist masters and, because of the power and accessibility of his work and the tragedy and dedication of his life, he became a legend as an artist. He was born on March 30, 1853 in the Netherlands.The son of a Dutch parson, he was largely self-taught as an artist. Ascetic and intensely spiritual, he viewed art as almost a religious vocation. He painted incessantly and left a vast volume of work but sold only one picture during his lifetime. In 1888, van Gogh went to Arles in search of the glowing sunlight, there breaking from the somber, earthbound realism of his early style to the brilliant color, passionate thick brushstrokes, and incredible joyousness of his later style. Some of these paintings include: The Yellow House, Bedroom in Arles, The red vineyard, and paul Gauguin's Armchair. Although he suffered a mental breakdown in his later years, he still went on to paint masterpieces like Starry Night and The Sower. On July 27, 1890 he is said to have shot himself. Many believe this was a suicide act, but others maintain it was accidental or that he was shot by neighboring kids with a "malfunctioning" gun. The gun was never found. His letters to his brother Theo are a moving and fascinating account of his working processes and the agony and drama of his daily life. Van Gogh was buried on July 30 in the municipal cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise at a funeral attended by his brother, Theo van Gogh, who died six months later, on January 25, 1891. They are buried side by side.

H. Anna Suh has a master's degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University. She was on the curatorial staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has worked on projects for scholarly publications at the Met, New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, the Princeton University Art Museum, and Harvard University. She lives in New York City.

Bibliographic information