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Vincent Van Gogh

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On view / Vincent van Gogh. A Life in Letters

‘My dear Theo, I was glad to hear that you were back safely. I missed you the first two days and it was strange for me not to find you when I came home in the afternoon’. This is the earliest exemplary from the complete correspondence of Van Gogh that survives today. Although Vincent is just nineteen years old when he pens it, he has already been working at the Goupil & Co art gallery in The Hague for some three years. Theo is fifteen at the time, and is returning home to his parents in Helvoirt, in North Brabant after a few days with his brother in the capital. He attends school in Oisterwijk, and travels there by foot – a six kilometer walk each way in the abundant wind and rain of that stormy Autumn. Vincent’s handwritten letter is torn at the top, but the date has been estimated thanks to the mention of the trotting races, which were held on Saturday, September 28th, 1872. Vincent has his younger brother at heart, ‘you must feel anxious’… he is a protective and affectionate older sibling, and will become even more so when Theo begins working at the Brussells branch of Goupil at the start of the new year. Read this, read that, visit these museums, take lots of walks ... ‘...

A rediscovery / The unpublished diaries of Jo van Gogh-Bonger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