Vincent Van Gogh

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh

“So let us go forward quietly, each on his own path, forever making for the light, 'sursum corda', and in the knowledge that we are as others are and that others are as we are and that is right to love one another in the best possible way.”

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh are collected letters Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) wrote to his beloved brother, Theo. They cover the period from 1873 to right before Van Gogh committed suicide in 1890. We’re preconditioned to expect madness, but Van Gogh is a kind, self-aware, inspired and passionate individual.

Certainly he demonstrates an artist’s eye for nature and an innate understanding of color and flowers.

Ronald de Leeuw, the former director of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, edited the collection: “[Van Gogh’s] decision to become an artist was unconditional. He accepted the social implications even when madness was the price. …”

Above all, Van Gogh sought the eternal. He wrote “The need is for nothing less than the infinite and the miraculous.” From Van Gogh’s uncompromising morality, his grasp of sorrow and joy, these letters reveal an extraordinary man anew.

Read more on seeking the eternal in Thoreau’s deeply reflective journal of his week spend drifting up the Concord River. On the harsh implications of the artistic life I recommend John Steinbeck’s Working Days Journals of the Grapes of Wrath.