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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  67,538 ratings  ·  320 reviews
A new selection of post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gough's letters, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh put a human face on one of the most haunting figures in modern Western culture. In this Penguin Classics edition, the letters are selected and edited by Ronald de Leeuw, and translated by Arnold Pomerans in Penguin Classics.

Few artists' letters are as self-revelatletters,
Paperback, 528 pages
Published July 31st 1997 by Penguin Classics (first published 1914)
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Peter Dowson Absolutely! I`ve read it without any special "art" preparation and broaden my mind with a lot of new information in this field. And if you want to get…moreAbsolutely! I`ve read it without any special "art" preparation and broaden my mind with a lot of new information in this field. And if you want to get more knowledge about art, approach platform.

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 ·  67,538 ratings  ·  320 reviews

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Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing


In my youth I felt saturated with Van Gogh’s art. Its popularity made it predictable. As one of the greatest victims of the phenomenon that Walter Benjamin explores in his The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, one could expect to see posters of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, or his Room, or Starry Night, in a third of the rooms of students. I suspected that more than this bright colours, always welcome in dingy lodgings, it was the legend grown out of the morbid aspect of his supposed suicide that explained the ubiquity
Roy Lotz
For great things do not just happen by impulse but are a succession of small things linked together.

The main problem when encountering Van Gogh is that his life has become the quintessential artistic myth of our age. The obscure genius ahead of his time, toiling in solitude, tortured by personal demons, driven by a creativity that sometimes spilled over into madness—and so on. You’ve heard it all before. You have also seen it before. His paintings suffer from the same overexposure as does his life stor
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I want to be careful in writing this review because I want to do what I can to urge you to put this book in your list of Books I Should Read During my Lifetime. You have such a list, don't you? No? Will you think about making one? It consists of the books that a large majority of your fellow humans believe are representative of what is most significant about this gift you have received, which we call life. Lots of the books that should go on that list are not necessarily ones you would pick from ...more
Luís C.
"[His letters] enable us to know more about Van Gogh's life and mentality than we do of any other artist. The letters form a running commentary on his work, and a human document without parallel."

About This Edition
Translator's Note
Biographical Outline

--Early Letters
--Ramsgate and Isleworth
--The Borinage
--The Hague
--The Hague, Drenthe and Nuenen
--From Nuenen to Antwerp

Ammara Abid
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is exceptional, thought-provoking, painstakingly beautiful and soulful. Not only literary letters but they encompassed whole life of a genius artist.
I absolutely love this book ♡
It's worth reading.

"What I find such a pleasant surprise about painting is that you can, with the same effect you put into a drawing, take something home with you that conveys the impression much better and is much more pleasing to look at. And at the same time more accurate, too. In a word, it/>"What
May 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Robert Hughes writes in one of his essays on Van Gogh that the myth's around Van Gogh run exactly opposite to the truth. He recommends delving into Van Gogh's letters as a way to get beyond the myths and better understand both the artist and his work. Van Gogh is often given an aura of a mad genius, whose hallucinations and fits gave rise to the intense colors and patterning of his paintings and drawings. In fact, his fits (most likely due to epilepsy) were debilitating, and often kept him out o ...more
M. Sarki
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-wonders
I first began my reading of these letters as a way to learn more about the art process, the way to creation coming from the mind of such a gifted artist such as Vincent Van Gogh. I also was interested in his life, his story, and how he got to this end. Personal letters seem to be so much more profitable to me as a reader than fiction, or even a biography. Throughout the entire book I came to feel, and inhabit, his struggle, his pain, his lack of recognition for what he deemed so important in tot ...more
Lauren Kammerdiener
"How much sadness there is in life. Still, it won't do to become depressed, one should turn to other things, and the right thing is work, but there are times when one can only find peace of mind in the realization: I, too, shall not be spared by unhappiness."
David Sarkies
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Mind of an Artist
31 March 2018 - Adelaide

Well, straight out I can say that this book isn’t the easiest of reads, namely because it is a collection of letters between Vincent and his brother Theo. It doesn’t contain all of the letters, namely because Vincent was quite a prolific, and very eloquent, letter writer, and Theo was one of those people that kept everything, which means that we literally have a copy of all of the letters that he sent Theo, as well as some that he sent to others (including his siste
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
if i had to choose just 2 books on a desert island it would be the bible and van gogh's letters!
Gregory Hunt
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Reading Van Gogh's letters is rewarding to any artist who's interested in the creative process. As a musician, I found these letters inspiring in parts. Be warned, most of what you'll read is about money, painting supplies, and what he happened to be working on at the moment and when he expected to finish, but he will occasionally talk about his philosophies on art and his personal thoughts and troubles. Make no mistake, he was indeed a tortured individual, but he was highly read and hyper-aware ...more
S.J. Pettersson
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: worn-spines
I wasn't aware that Gauguin was at Vincent's bedside when he passed and when I read the letter G wrote describing what happened I began to cry so hard. Not out of sadness but out of love for his dignity, passions and unwavering commitment, both artistic, social and in hindsight, political, to the infinite possibilities of art of which he humble only considered himself a forbearer paving the way for more important artists to come who would truly be able to paint the essence of all people, not pos ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cajonera
The habit of reading whatever I feel like from the stack of books it keeps piling in my bedroom led me to these beautiful Letters of Vincent van Gogh.

I was not expecting much from them, maybe some insight into van Gogh depressive character or perhaps some everyday experiences from the time he lived, maybe getting a better idea of what it means to be an artist. Vincent, however, delivered much more than expected.

The letters are separated in periods of his life which coinci
Patrick Sherriff
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
Great stuff. My reivew is here:
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dear Sweet Vincent. I love him v much and he was truly a beautiful writer! Words, paint, art. I feel like I got to know him so much...I miss him! All heart. <3
Tammy Marie Jacintho
Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I felt the full impact of Vincent’s loneliness, despair, and rebounding hopefulness. I felt the weight of what it means to be an artist, what it means to strive for your own voice, to know the strengths and weaknesses of your own hands.

I experienced, through Vincent, a true representation of monastic isolation. Vincent’s isolation allowed him to deepen his dialogue with his beneficiaries. And, his most steadfast Muse was Theo. Theo and God. In many ways they were interchangeable, as Vincent ido
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommendations
so great. such a rare and impassioned human being, van gogh. he was one of the last virtuous men. i listened to don mclean's song "vincent" after i read this and cried undignified blubbery tears; "the world was never meant for one as beautiful as you! why vincent, why!"

Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don't know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can't do a thing’. The can/>Just
Francis Coco
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Once I house sat for a man I worked with while he was on vacation and as a thank you, he gave me a Cookie Jar with Van Gogh's Starry Night. At the time, I wasn't so crazy about Van Gogh because I felt his art was so commercialized - Starry Night seemed to be everywhere! But, a few years later I saw a Van Gogh piece in person and that changed everything. - - Brilliant. I just fell in love with Van Gogh. So, I read these letters and found them fascinating, even the mundane stuff about what supplie ...more
Aman Mittal
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Admire as much as you can. Most people do not admire enough.

I can't stop admiring his art work. Sometimes I just want to drown myself in them. Anyone familiar with the drawings and paintings Van Gogh produced will certainly observe that he just not created any beauty with his art work, but the beauty that would give people something to think about. During his short, intense life, one will discover that The Letters of Vincent van Gogh highlight many facets of his personality that are suggested
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, art-culture
Van Gogh's letters are clearly the best way to know the artist, to understand his life, but not to get into his mind and understand his work. Throughout his life, van Gogh depended a lot on his brother Theo for financial support, and their letters are most of the time about lack of money. It's very interesting to read about the artists that he admired, and understand how he was influenced at first by Millet when he started painting peasants, potatoes, peasants and potatoes, and then by the frenc ...more
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm smitten. It is impossible to think "Van Gogh" without being aware of the well-known irony of his elevation to the very highest altars of ART (and commerce) after a life cut short by despair and scarcity. In this letters Van Gogh makes his case. Vehemently, honestly and without much embellishments beyond their raw directness, he appeals to his patient brother Theo often for money but even more often for understanding. And even though he might have been difficult and stubborn, he makes all kin ...more
Ted Prokash
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Most of what I knew about Van Gogh, previous to reading his letters, was gleaned from the 1956 Kirk Douglas movie, Lust For Life, and the 1994 Lee Harvey Oswald Band song, Van Gogh and the Chemical Haze ( Both fine offerings in their own right. This collection of correspondence is a deeper delving indeed.

I have no legitimate understanding of the visual arts . . . but let's not turn this in to a litany of the things
Maan Kawas
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great book that contains a great selection of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters, basically to his brother Theo, which are revealing and provide better understanding of this great artist’s ideas and life! The letters look like a work of literature, and tell a lot about the different circumstances and challenges in Van Gogh’s life. The letters included many painful and sad experiences in his life that left my eyes wet, such as his unrequited love, threats from his father (guardianship), his illness, th ...more
Chris Lugo
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is literally the best book describing the experience of being an artist that I have ever read. Not only was Van Gogh a profound and deeply symbolic painter, he was also an excellent writer who understood how to use words in the same fashion that he used paint in order to express his profound pathos and admiration of the natural world. A true artist is someone who not only observes the beauty of nature but also lives it within their experience. Van Gogh was an example of the artist as experi ...more
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Next to An American Master: De kooning, this is my favorite book about(by) an artist. There are so few actual written documents left from any artist, and van Gogh was as good a writer as he was a painter. His relationship and love for his brother Theo is amazing. He is one of the few master's we can really understand because of his beautiful correspondence with Theo. I have read these letters over and over.
Roshni Ajmal
22nd August 2018

The feeling after reading all the letters is just a blend of each and every emotion that exists in the entire universe. I started out with this book but then I kept googling stuff, so soon I shifted to this website. And I am so glad that I did, the book doesn't have all the letters.

This website is just a thing of marvel. Giving the readers all the options to, however, they want to read. and above anything else facsimile of original letters. Ever since I saw that Doctor Who episode (the doctor
Cristina Chițu
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Do go on doing a lot of walking & keep up your love of nature, for that is the right way to understand art better & better. Painters understand nature & love her & teach us to see.

It is good to love as many things as one can, for therein lies true strength, and those who love much, do much and accomplish much, and whatever is done in love is done well.

And not being too troubled by our weaknesses, for even he who has none, has one weakness, namely that he has none, an
Sarah Embaby
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-artists

Van Gogh's letters to his brother remain my favorite among them all. His details to his paintings, feelings, or his daily experiences are just exquisitely vivid and rich. He poured his heart in everything he had done.

To the closest artists to my heart, to Van Gogh
May your soul rest in peace....
E Owen
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“What am I in the eyes of most people – a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person – somebody who has no position in society and never will have, in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then – even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart”
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Goodreads Italia: Lettere - Vincent van Gogh 4 49 Oct 25, 2013 08:29AM  

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Vincent Willem van Gogh, for whom color was the chief symbol of expression, was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland. The son of a pastor, brought up in a religious and cultured atmosphere, Vincent was highly emotional and lacked self-confidence. Between 1860 and 1880, when he finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had had two unsuitable and unhappy romances and had worked unsuccessfully as a clerk in ...more
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