Not content with being an iconoclastic artist, Vincent Van Gogh was also a prolific letter-writer. The examples in this collection reflect a life of ceaseless struggle. They relate the quest for a personal destiny that led to his adopting the life of an artist, his close relationship with his brother Theo – the only human being who never abandoned him – his frequently tempestuous friendships, his hunger for recognition, his passion for art and literature.

Behind this fascinating tale lurks another story: that of the correspondence itself. A meticulous examination of the original, 120-year-old documents preserved in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam allows us to make a closer connection between the artist and the letter-writer. Van Goghs Correspondence describes what those frail pages reveal to today’s reader: the artists own handwriting, inconsistent but always recognisable, and the elegant sketches accompanying the letters. The book lingers on the destinations and recipients of this correspondence, the reason why Van Gogh wrote in French to his brother Theo and on his deliberate variations in style.

Leo Jansen is Picture Curator at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and has been associated as a researcher with the Van Gogh Brievenproject since 1994.

This is the third volume in the series Focus on Van Gogh devoted to the artists life and work, published on the initiative of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.