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Vincent Van Gogh

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A rediscovery / The unpublished diaries of Jo van Gogh-Bonger

‘Today I begin my diary. I used to laugh at anyone who did it, for I thought it foolish and sentimental […]. For in the routine of daily life there is so little time to reflect, and sometimes days go by when I don’t actually live, but let life happen to me, and that’s terrible. I would think it dreadful to have to say at the end of my life: “I’ve actually lived for nothing, I have achieved nothing great or noble,” and yet I believe that something like that could happen’. Amsterdam, March 26th 1880, Jo Bonger is seventeen years old. This is the first page of her diary, ‘Mijn Dagboek’, to which she will entrust her musings on and off until 1897. For the title page of this first notebook she chose to transcribe two lines from the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ‘To act that each tomorrow/find us farther than today’.  These words would become her motto for the rest of her life.   From the left: Jo Bonger, Diary n. 1 (1880-1881, 20,5 x 16,6 cm), © Van Gogh Museum, Vincent van Gogh Foundation, Amsterdam; Jo Bonger, ca. 1880-1882, Friedrich Carel Hisgen, photograph, © Van Gogh Museum, Vincent van Gogh Foundation, Amsterdam Little known but highly influential: Jo...