Letters to an Artist - From Vincent Van Gogh to Anton Ridder Van Rappard 1881-1885

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Letters to an Artist From Vincent van Gogh to Anton Ridder van Rappard 1881-1885 Translated from the Dutch by Rela van Messel With an Introduction by Walter Pach Published by the Viking Press, New York 1936 FIRST PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER 1936 COPYRIGHT 1936 BY THE VIKING PRESS, INC, PRINTED IN U. S. A. BY THE HADDON CRAFTSMEN AQXJATONE ILLUSTRATIONS BY EDWARD STERN COMPANY DISTRIBUTED IN CANADA BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS BOOK, INCLUDING THE FACSIMILE LETTERS AND DRAWINGS, MAY BE REPRO DUCED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES IN ANY FORM WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE PUBLISHERS. Translators Note In rendering these letters into English I discovered that a strictly literal translation would be confusing, for van Goghs peculiar style, to say nothing of many Dutch expressions, is all but untranslatable. Nevertheless, I have kept as close to the text as possible in order to preserve the distinct flavour and vigorous colour of the letters. Van Goghs handwriting is also unique it is uneven and vari able, now slanting, now perpendicular, sometimes so small that one has to use a magnifying-glass, at other times, especially when he wishes to give extra emphasis to what he says, unusually thick and large. He habitually used different nibs in the same letter, and frequently it looks as if he had dipped them into India ink, thus making the reading of the next page almost impossible, for he wrote on a certain type of thin ruled paper common in Holland. Often van Gogh, after concluding a letter, would go back and make additions in tiny script at the end of paragraphs in order to reinforce a statement or to make clearer what he was afraid he had not expressedwell enough. Such additions are to be found in nearly every letter they are typical of him, as are his rugged style and enthusiasm which I have tried to convey. Nothing, however, has been omitted except a few passages of sheer repeti tion and some lists literally, catalogue notes of van Goghs acquisitions for his print collection. As most of the letters are undated, the task of arranging them chronologically was extremely difficult, if not impossible but I feel that the order in which they here appear will at least not in terfere with the readers sense of continuity. A casual conversation about the exhibition of van Goghs works, then current in New York, first revealed to me the ex istence of the contents of this volume. Closer access to the hith erto unpublished letters of the Dutch artist has only increased my belief in their significance, and I am most happy to see them now made available to the public. RELA VAN MESSEL Introduction BY WALTER PACH IT is not unfitting that the first presentation of the letters of Vincent van Gogh composing the present volume should be made on this side of the Atlantic, his hold on the admiration of Americans having proved a strong one from the very first. Any number of our cities have applied for the loan of that great collection of the painters work which is travelling about the country as I write these lines, but circumstances have made it necessary to limit the places for the exhibition to New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto. Even so, with over a hundred thousand visitors in each of the places where the pic tures have been shown so far, it is almost certain that moreAmericans will have attended the exhibition than have ever gathered before to see the production of a single artist. But American interest in van Gogh is of far earlier date. Well before the Armory Show of 1913 brought to this country a splendid group of his paintings, he was represented in such col lections as those of John Quinn and Katherine S. Dreier in New York, and of Sir William Van Home in Montreal. In 1920 an important showing of his works, from those in the possession of the van Gogh family, was eagerly welcomed in New York...

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About the author (2007)

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.

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