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Vincent van Gogh: A Life in Letters

Nienke Bakker, Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten


An illustrated selection of Van Gogh’s letters, which provide an extraordinary window into the life and creative thinking of one of the world’s most iconic artists

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Vincent van Gogh’s letters have long been prized as some of the most valuable documents in the world of art. Not only do they throw light on Van Gogh’s own complex and intriguing character, they enlighten the whole creative process as seen through his eyes.

Here we can observe Van Gogh’s thoughts and opinions at first hand, as well as his close ties with his brother Theo, his sometimes troubled relationships with friends and fellow artists, his personal doubts and fears, and above all his overriding passion for his art. This is not only an immense treasure trove of biographical and art-historical information, it provides a lasting pleasure as a personal written testimony to a life consecrated to art.

Vincent van Gogh: The Illustrated Essential Letters belongs on the shelves of every reader in search of self-revelatory documents of one of the greatest creative minds.

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'If you haven’t yet discovered the impassioned power of [Van Gogh's] interior monologues, this volume of his letters [...] will make a nicely presented and eminently manageable addition to your shelves'
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times

'A literary masterpiece that would be worth reading even if his paintings were rubbish…. an engrossing encounter with the creativity of Vincent’s life of solitude. As you read, look at his paintings online and see suffering turned into beauty'
Jonathan Jones, Guardian

'A judicious selection from the magnificent six-volume Complete Letters of 2009 … Impassioned, often heartbreaking, furious, funny and tender, these letters form a unique testament from a pivotal figure in 19th-century art'
John Banville, Irish Independent

'Open any letter here and it compels — such is the force, honesty and lucidity of van Gogh’s literary expressiveness, echoing his qualities as a painter. Generously illustrated with the artist’s drawings, this is a perfect condensed version of the six-volume complete correspondence; among its miracles is optimism almost to the end'
Financial Times

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 23.4 x 15.3 cm

Extent: 448 pp

Publication date: 2 July 2020

ISBN: 9780500094242

About the Author

Hans Luijten, Leo Jansen and Nienke Bakker are the original team of editors who produced the acclaimed six-volume edition in 2009 at the Van Gogh Museum in partnership with the Huygens ING, Amsterdam.