Vincent van Gogh wrote over 800 letters in his lifetime to family and friends the majority of which were to his beloved brother Theo Van Gogh. The letters provide insight to the life of the artist as well as his work. They allow us to know more about his life, how he thought and how he worked than nearly any other artist. In the Letters section, you can learn more about the significance of Vincent van Gogh's letters and find a link to a resource containing Van Gogh's translated letters.


After seeing the portrait of Adolphe Monticelli at the Galerie Delareybarette, Van Gogh adopted a brighter palette and a bolder attack, particularly in paintings such as his Seascape at Saintes-Maries (1888).[104][105] Two years later, Vincent and Theo paid for the publication of a book on Monticelli paintings, and Vincent bought some of Monticelli's works to add to his collection.[106]
Among Van Dyke's high school classmates in Danville were Donald O'Connor and Bobby Short, both of whom would go on to successful careers as entertainers.[10] One of his closest friends was a cousin of Gene Hackman, the future actor, who also lived in Danville in those years.[10] Van Dyke's mother's family was very religious, and for a brief period in his youth, he considered a career in ministry, although a drama class in high school convinced him that his true calling was as a professional entertainer.[10] In his autobiography, he wrote, "I suppose that I never completely gave up my childhood idea of being a minister. Only the medium and the message changed. I have still endeavored to touch people's souls, to raise their spirits and put smiles on their faces."[10] Even after the launch of his career as an entertainer, he taught Sunday school in the Presbyterian Church, where he was an elder, and he continued to read such theologians as Buber, Tillich, and Bonhoeffer, who helped explain in practical terms the relevance of religion in everyday life.[10]
I am extremely unhappy with the service I was provided. My wife and I just moved, and are on a tight budget. We were in need of a mattress due to having to leave the old one at our old place. After sleeping on an air mattress for a few months we decided it was time to bite the bullet and buy a real one. We went to art van and got a cheaper mattress (due to the tight budget) and told it was not in stock at their location but it was at their Dearborn location, and they would have it shuttled and we could pick it up in 1-2 business days. After they took our card information and charged us they informed us that the mattress wouldn't be ready until February, and we are now going to have to wait 3 weeks.
Nevertheless, the twelve customers selected the colors and styles they desired, and were asked to return later in the afternoon to pick up their purchases. Paul Van Doren and Lee then rushed to the factory to manufacture the selected shoes. When the customers returned that afternoon to pick up their shoes, Paul Van Doren and Gordon C. Lee realized that they had forgotten to maintain a cash reserve to provide change to customers. The customers were therefore given the shoes and asked to return the following day with their payments. All twelve of the customers returned the following day to pay for their items.[6]
Van Gogh was buried on 30 July, in the municipal cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise. The funeral was attended by Theo van Gogh, Andries Bonger, Charles Laval, Lucien Pissarro, Émile Bernard, Julien Tanguy and Paul Gachet, among twenty family members, friends and locals. Theo had been ill, and his health began to decline further after his brother's death. Weak and unable to come to terms with Vincent's absence, he died on 25 January 1891 at Den Dolder, and was buried in Utrecht.[193] In 1914, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger had Theo's body exhumed and moved from Utrecht to be re-buried alongside Vincent's at Auvers-sur-Oise.[194]
Van Gogh wrote that with The Night Café he tried "to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime".[124] When he visited Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in June, he gave lessons to a Zouave second lieutenant – Paul-Eugène Milliet[125] – and painted boats on the sea and the village.[126] MacKnight introduced Van Gogh to Eugène Boch, a Belgian painter who sometimes stayed in Fontvieille, and the two exchanged visits in July.[125]

After seeing the portrait of Adolphe Monticelli at the Galerie Delareybarette, Van Gogh adopted a brighter palette and a bolder attack, particularly in paintings such as his Seascape at Saintes-Maries (1888).[104][105] Two years later, Vincent and Theo paid for the publication of a book on Monticelli paintings, and Vincent bought some of Monticelli's works to add to his collection.[106]


The exact sequence of events which led to Van Gogh's mutilation of his ear is not known. Gauguin stated, fifteen years later, that the night followed several instances of physically threatening behaviour.[138] Their relationship was complex, and Theo may have owed money to Gauguin, who was suspicious that the brothers were exploiting him financially.[139] It seems likely that Van Gogh had realised that Gauguin was planning to leave.[139] The following days saw heavy rain, leading to the two men being shut in the Yellow House.[140] Gauguin reported that Van Gogh followed when Gauguin left the house for a walk, and "rushed towards me, an open razor in his hand".[140] This account is uncorroborated;[141] Gauguin was almost certainly absent from the Yellow House that night, most likely in a hotel.[140]


Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 into a Dutch Reformed family in Groot-Zundert, in the predominantly Catholic province of North Brabant in the southern Netherlands.[16] He was the oldest surviving child of Theodorus van Gogh, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, and Anna Cornelia Carbentus. Van Gogh was given the name of his grandfather, and of a brother stillborn exactly a year before his birth.[note 2] Vincent was a common name in the Van Gogh family: his grandfather, Vincent (1789–1874), who received a degree in theology at the University of Leiden in 1811, had six sons, three of whom became art dealers. This Vincent may have been named after his own great-uncle, a sculptor (1729–1802).[18]
The portraits gave Van Gogh his best opportunity to earn. He believed they were "the only thing in painting that moves me deeply and that gives me a sense of the infinite."[223][226] He wrote to his sister that he wished to paint portraits that would endure, and that he would use colour to capture their emotions and character rather than aiming for photographic realism.[227] Those closest to Van Gogh are mostly absent from his portraits; he rarely painted Theo, Van Rappard or Bernard. The portraits of his mother were from photographs.[228]
On January 27, 2013, at the age of 87, Van Dyke received the 2013 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. During his acceptance speech, Van Dyke reminisced about his work over the years as an entertainer and stated that his career has "been full of surprises and a lot of fun." He also praised actors working in the industry today, calling them "the greatest generation of actors" and telling them, "You've all lifted the art to another place now." He continued with a rhetorical question for his Hollywood colleagues: "Aren't we lucky to have found a line of work that doesn't require growing up? I love that." Van Dyke is the 49th recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award, following 2012 honoree Mary Tyler Moore.
Van Gogh stayed within what he called the "guise of reality",[218] and was critical of overly stylised works.[219] He wrote afterwards that the abstraction of Starry Night had gone too far and that reality had "receded too far in the background".[219] Hughes describes it as a moment of extreme visionary ecstasy: the stars are in a great whirl, reminiscent of Hokusai's Great Wave, the movement in the heaven above is reflected by the movement of the cypress on the earth below, and the painter's vision is "translated into a thick, emphatic plasma of paint".[220]
For years, Van Dyke struggled financially and professionally. He and his first wife, Margie, married on a radio show called Bride and Groom in 1948, in part because the program paid for the ceremony and gave them a free honeymoon. In the late 1940s and early '50s, Van Dyke worked in radio and television in Atlanta and New Orleans. He landed a seven-year contract with CBS in the early 1950s, but was let go after three years.
The sunflowers were painted to decorate the walls in anticipation of Gauguin's visit, and Van Gogh placed individual works around the Yellow House's guest room in Arles. Gauguin was deeply impressed and later acquired two of the Paris versions.[134] After Gauguin's departure, Van Gogh imagined the two major versions of the sunflowers as wings of the Berceuse Triptych, and included them in his Les XX in Brussels exhibit. Today the major pieces of the series are among his best known, celebrated for the sickly connotations of the colour yellow and its tie-in with the Yellow House, the expressionism of the brush strokes, and their contrast against often dark backgrounds.[244]
Van Gogh returned to Cuesmes in August 1880, where he lodged with a miner until October.[52] He became interested in the people and scenes around him, and recorded them in drawings after Theo's suggestion that he take up art in earnest. He travelled to Brussels later in the year, to follow Theo's recommendation that he study with the Dutch artist Willem Roelofs, who persuaded him – in spite of his dislike of formal schools of art – to attend the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts. He registered at the Académie in November 1880, where he studied anatomy and the standard rules of modelling and perspective.[53]

Born in Missouri, entertainer Dick Van Dyke was raised in Danville, Illinois, where repeated viewings of Laurel & Hardy comedies at his local movie palace inspired him to go into show business. Active in high school and community plays in his teens, Van Dyke briefly put his theatrical aspirations aside upon reaching college age. He toyed with the idea of becoming a Presbyterian minister; then, after serving in the Air Force during World War II, opened up a Danville advertising agency. When this venture failed, it was back to show biz, first as a radio announcer for local station WDAN, and later as half of a record-pantomime act called The Merry Mutes (the other half was a fellow named Philip Erickson). While hosting a TV morning show in New Orleans, Van Dyke was signed to a contract by the CBS network. He spent most of his time subbing for other CBS personalities and emceeing such forgotten endeavors as Cartoon Theatre. After making his acting debut as a hayseed baseball player on The Phil Silvers Show, Van Dyke left CBS to free-lance. He hosted a few TV game shows before his career breakthrough as co-star of the 1959 Broadway review The Girls Against the Boys. The following year, he starred in the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie, winning a Tony Award for his portrayal of mother-dominated songwriter Albert Peterson (it would be his last Broadway show until the short-lived 1980 revival of The Music Man). In 1961, he was cast as comedy writer Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which after a shaky start lasted five seasons and earned its star three Emmies.He made his movie bow in the 1963 filmization of Bye Bye Birdie, then entered into a flexible arrangement with Walt Disney Studios. His best known films from that era include Mary Poppins (1964), Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN and The Comic, in which he played an amalgam of several self-destructive silent movie comedians. His TV specials remained popular in the ratings, and it was this fact that led to the debut of The New Dick Van Dyke Show in 1971. Despite the creative input of the earlier Dick Van Dyke Show's maven Carl Reiner, the later series never caught on, and petered out after three seasons. A chronic "people pleaser," Van Dyke was loath to display anger or frustration around his co-workers or fans, so he began taking solace in liquor; by 1972, he had become a full-fledged alcoholic. Rather than lie to his admirers or himself any longer, he underwent treatment and publicly admitted his alcoholism -- one of the first major TV stars ever to do so. Van Dyke's public confession did little to hurt his "nice guy" public image, and, now fully and permanently sober, he continued to be sought out for guest-star assignments and talk shows. In 1974, he starred in the TV movie The Morning After, playing an ad executive who destroys his reputation, his marriage and his life thanks to booze. After that Van Dyke, further proved his versatility when he began accepting villainous roles, ranging from a cold-blooded wife murderer in a 1975 Columbo episode to the corrupt district attorney in the 1990 film Dick Tracy. He also made several stabs at returning to weekly television, none of which panned out--until 1993, when he starred as Dr. Mark Sloan in the popular mystery series Diagnosis Murder. He made a few more movie appearances after Diagnosis Murder came to an end, most notably as a retired security guard in the hit family film Night at the Museum. As gifted at writing and illustrating as he is at singing, dancing and clowning, Van Dyke has penned two books, Faith, Hope and Hilarity and Those Funny Kids. From 1992 to 1994, he served as chairman of the Nickelodeon cable service, which was then sweeping the ratings by running Dick Van Dyke Show reruns in prime time. Van Dyke is the brother of award-winning TV personality Jerry Van Dyke, and the father of actor Barry Van Dyke.


Van Gogh made several painting excursions during visits to the landscape around Arles. He made paintings of harvests, wheat fields and other rural landmarks of the area, including The Old Mill (1888); a good example of a picturesque structure bordering the wheat fields beyond.[116] At various points, Van Gogh painted the view from his window – at The Hague, Antwerp, and Paris. These works culminated in The Wheat Field series, which depicted the view from his cells in the asylum at Saint-Rémy.[256]
There are more than 600 letters from Vincent to Theo and around 40 from Theo to Vincent. There are 22 to his sister Wil, 58 to the painter Anthon van Rappard, 22 to Émile Bernard as well as individual letters to Paul Signac, Paul Gauguin and the critic Albert Aurier. Some are illustrated with sketches.[8] Many are undated, but art historians have been able to place most in chronological order. Problems in transcription and dating remain, mainly with those posted from Arles. While there Vincent wrote around 200 letters in Dutch, French and English.[14] There is a gap in the record when he lived in Paris as the brothers lived together and had no need to correspond.[15]
Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime, and was considered a madman and a failure. He became famous after his suicide, and exists in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist "where discourses on madness and creativity converge".[6] His reputation began to grow in the early 20th century as elements of his painting style came to be incorporated by the Fauves and German Expressionists. He attained widespread critical, commercial and popular success over the ensuing decades, and is remembered as an important but tragic painter, whose troubled personality typifies the romantic ideal of the tortured artist. Today, Van Gogh's works are among the world's most expensive paintings to have ever sold at auction, and his legacy is honoured by a museum in his name, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which holds the world's largest collection of his paintings and drawings.
Conflicts arose between the brothers. At the end of 1886 Theo found living with Vincent to be "almost unbearable".[108] By early 1887, they were again at peace, and Vincent had moved to Asnières, a northwestern suburb of Paris, where he got to know Signac. He adopted elements of Pointillism, a technique in which a multitude of small coloured dots are applied to the canvas so that when seen from a distance they create an optical blend of hues. The style stresses the ability of complementary colours – including blue and orange – to form vibrant contrasts.[87][108]
Alongside Angela Lansbury, Norman Lloyd, William Daniels, Christopher Lee, Mickey Rooney, Ernest Borgnine, Betty White, Edward Asner, Adam West, Marla Gibbs, William Shatner, Larry Hagman, Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones, Hal Linden and Alan Alda, Van Dyke is one of the few actors in Hollywood who lives into their 80s and/or 90s without ever either retiring from acting or having stopped getting work. 

In July 1869 Van Gogh's uncle Cent obtained a position for him at the art dealers Goupil & Cie in The Hague.[32] After completing his training in 1873, he was transferred to Goupil's London branch at Southampton Street, and took lodgings at 87 Hackford Road, Stockwell.[33] This was a happy time for Van Gogh; he was successful at work, and at 20 was earning more than his father. Theo's wife later remarked that this was the best year of Vincent's life. He became infatuated with his landlady's daughter, Eugénie Loyer, but was rejected after confessing his feelings; she was secretly engaged to a former lodger. He grew more isolated, and religiously fervent. His father and uncle arranged a transfer to Paris in 1875, where he became resentful of issues such as the degree to which the firm commodified art, and was dismissed a year later.[34]
Theo criticised The Potato Eaters for its dark palette, which he thought unsuitable for a modern style.[206] During Van Gogh's stay in Paris between 1886 and 1887, he tried to master a new, lighter palette. His Portrait of Père Tanguy (1887) shows his success with the brighter palette, and is evidence of an evolving personal style.[207] Charles Blanc's treatise on colour interested him greatly, and led him to work with complementary colours. Van Gogh came to believe that the effect of colour went beyond the descriptive; he said that "colour expresses something in itself".[208][209] According to Hughes, Van Gogh perceived colour as having a "psychological and moral weight", as exemplified in the garish reds and greens of The Night Cafe, a work he wanted to "express the terrible passions of humanity".[210] Yellow meant the most to him, because it symbolised emotional truth. He used yellow as a symbol for sunlight, life, and God.[211]
In Paris in 1901 a large Van Gogh retrospective was held at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, which excited André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, and contributed to the emergence of Fauvism.[269] Important group exhibitions took place with the Sonderbund artists in Cologne in 1912, the Armory Show, New York in 1913, and Berlin in 1914.[273] Henk Bremmer was instrumental in teaching and talking about Van Gogh,[274] and introduced Helene Kröller-Müller to Van Gogh's art; she became an avid collector of his work.[275] The early figures in German Expressionism such as Emil Nolde acknowledged a debt to Van Gogh's work.[276] Bremmer assisted Jacob Baart de la Faille, whose catalogue raisonné L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh appeared in 1928.[277][note 15]
In 1957 Francis Bacon based a series of paintings on reproductions of Van Gogh's The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, the original of which was destroyed during the Second World War. Bacon was inspired by an image he described as "haunting", and regarded Van Gogh as an alienated outsider, a position which resonated with him. Bacon identified with Van Gogh's theories of art and quoted lines written to Theo: "[R]eal painters do not paint things as they are ... [T]hey paint them as they themselves feel them to be."[285]
In December 1888 he painted La Berceuse – a figure that he thought as good as his sunflowers. It has a limited palette, varied brushstrokes and simple contours.[219] It appears to be a culmination of portraits of the Roulin family completed in Arles between November and December. The portraits show a shift in style from the fluid, restrained brushstrokes and even surface of Portrait of the Postman to the frenetic style, rough surface, broad brushstrokes and use of a palette knife in Madame Roulin with Baby.[229]
Van Dyke received a Grammy Award in 1964, along with Julie Andrews, for his performance on the soundtrack to Mary Poppins.[41] In 1970, he published Faith, Hope and Hilarity: A Child's Eye View of Religion a book of humorous anecdotes based largely on his experiences as a Sunday School teacher.[42] Van Dyke was principal in "KXIV Inc." and owned 1400 AM KXIV in Phoenix (later KSUN) from 1965 to 1985.[citation needed]
Many of the late paintings are sombre but essentially optimistic and, right up to the time of Van Gogh's death, reflect his desire to return to lucid mental health. Yet some of his final works reflect his deepening concerns.[257][258] Writing in July 1890, from Auvers, Van Gogh said that he had become absorbed "in the immense plain against the hills, boundless as the sea, delicate yellow".[181]
Van Gogh wrote that with The Night Café he tried "to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime".[124] When he visited Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in June, he gave lessons to a Zouave second lieutenant – Paul-Eugène Milliet[125] – and painted boats on the sea and the village.[126] MacKnight introduced Van Gogh to Eugène Boch, a Belgian painter who sometimes stayed in Fontvieille, and the two exchanged visits in July.[125]
The same thing happened at the Church of Belgium: In the winter of 1878, van Gogh volunteered to move to an impoverished coal mine in the south of Belgium, a place where preachers were usually sent as punishment. He preached and ministered to the sick, and also drew pictures of the miners and their families, who called him "Christ of the Coal Mines." 
Van Gogh returned to Etten in April 1881 for an extended stay with his parents.[54] He continued to draw, often using his neighbours as subjects. In August 1881, his recently widowed cousin, Cornelia "Kee" Vos-Stricker, daughter of his mother's older sister Willemina and Johannes Stricker, arrived for a visit. He was thrilled and took long walks with her. Kee was seven years older than he was, and had an eight-year-old son. Van Gogh surprised everyone by declaring his love to her and proposing marriage.[55] She refused with the words "No, nay, never" ("nooit, neen, nimmer").[56] After Kee returned to Amsterdam, Van Gogh went to The Hague to try to sell paintings and to meet with his second cousin, Anton Mauve. Mauve was the successful artist Van Gogh longed to be.[57] Mauve invited him to return in a few months, and suggested he spend the intervening time working in charcoal and pastels; Van Gogh went back to Etten and followed this advice.[57]

His understanding of the possibilities of painting was evolving rapidly; from studying Hals he learned to portray the freshness of a visual impression, while the works of Paolo Veronese and Eugène Delacroix taught him that colour can express something by itself. This led to his enthusiasm for Peter Paul Rubens and inspired his sudden departure for Antwerp, Belgium, where the greatest number of Rubens’s works could be seen. The revelation of Rubens’s mode of direct notation and of his ability to express a mood by a combination of colours proved decisive in the development of van Gogh’s style. Simultaneously, van Gogh discovered Japanese prints and Impressionist painting. All these sources influenced him more than the academic principles taught at the Antwerp Academy, where he was enrolled. His refusal to follow the academy’s dictates led to disputes, and after three months he left precipitately in 1886 to join Theo in Paris. There, still concerned with improving his drawing, van Gogh met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, and others who were to play historic roles in modern art. They opened his eyes to the latest developments in French painting. At the same time, Theo introduced him to Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, and other artists of the Impressionist group. 

Along that same vein, in August 2013, reports about a new health scare involving Van Dyke were circulating worldwide. According to reports, a sports car that Van Dyke was operating on L.A.'s 101 Freeway suddenly burst into flames on August 19, leaving the actor trapped inside the burning vehicle until a passing motorist who had witnessed the accident could come to his aid. Thanks to the passerby, Jason Pennington, Van Dyke left the scene of the accident unscathed—not only did the actor walk away uninjured and needing no medical treatment, he did not receive a citation for the incident, according to The Associated Press. According to some reports, Van Dyke had reported engine trouble with the vehicle the previous day, on August 18.

Van Gogh's gaze is seldom directed at the viewer. The portraits vary in intensity and colour, and in those painted after December 1888 especially, the vivid colours highlight the haggard pallor of his skin.[232] Some depict the artist with a beard, others without. He can be seen with bandages in portraits executed just after he mutilated his ear. In only a few does he depict himself as a painter.[230] Those painted in Saint-Rémy show the head from the right, the side opposite his damaged ear, as he painted himself reflected in his mirror.[236][237]

Van Gogh entered the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum on 8 May 1889, accompanied by his carer, Frédéric Salles, a Protestant clergyman. Saint-Paul was a former monastery in Saint-Rémy, located less than 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Arles, and was run by a former naval doctor, Théophile Peyron. Van Gogh had two cells with barred windows, one of which he used as a studio.[162] The clinic and its garden became the main subjects of his paintings. He made several studies of the hospital's interiors, such as Vestibule of the Asylum and Saint-Rémy (September 1889). Some of his works from this time are characterised by swirls, such as The Starry Night. He was allowed short supervised walks, during which time he painted cypresses and olive trees, including Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background 1889, Cypresses 1889, Cornfield with Cypresses (1889), Country road in Provence by Night (1890). In September 1889 he produced two further versions of Bedroom in Arles.[163]
In despair of ever being able to overcome his loneliness or be cured, van Gogh shot himself. He did not die immediately. When found wounded in his bed, he allegedly said, “I shot myself.…I only hope I haven’t botched it.” That evening, when interrogated by the police, van Gogh refused to answer questions, saying, “What I have done is nobody else’s business. I am free to do what I like with my own body.”
In preparation for Gauguin's visit, Van Gogh bought two beds on advice from the station's postal supervisor Joseph Roulin, whose portrait he painted. On 17 September he spent his first night in the still sparsely furnished Yellow House.[129] When Gauguin consented to work and live in Arles with him, Van Gogh started to work on the Décoration for the Yellow House, probably the most ambitious effort he ever undertook.[130] He completed two chair paintings: Van Gogh's Chair and Gauguin's Chair.[131]
×