Vincent van Gogh (18531890) is often considered to be a genius in a class of his own, an exceptional self-taught painter who paid little attention to the art world around him. In reality, Van Gogh learned extensively from others, exchanged ideas with his contemporaries, and often made use of prevailing methods and techniques to hone his skills.
The culmination of an extensive research project undertaken by the Van Gogh Museum, this extraordinary book explores the workmanship behind his artistry. Essays address how he practiced his skills and adopted various sketching and painting techniques; acquired information about materials; learned about the physical characteristics of canvasses, paint, paper, chalk, and other materials; and how he approached working on paper and canvas. Showing his work alongside that of other artists demonstrates the degree to which he followed examples set by his contemporaries. Alongside the examination of Van Goghs working methods, contributors look at the work and research of modern conservators. Attention is devoted to the changes the paintings have undergone over time, such as paint and ink discoloration, revealing the importance of maintenance and restoration of artworks.

Marije Vellekoop is curator of prints and drawings at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.