While Van Gogh is widely known as a master of painting and drawing, he is gaining more recognition for his talent as a writer. With the recent exhibits at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and at The Royal Academy of Arts in London featuring Van Gogh’s letters and paintings side by side, more people are becoming aware of Van Gogh the writer. But his writing doesn’t need to be alongside his paintings for it to be impressive or to make sense. Van Gogh wrote hundreds of letters during his lifetime many of them to his brother Theo. His letters range in topic from things you might expect like art techniques and theory to discourses on religion, family, ambition, fear and love to name a few. It is not until you read several of Van Gogh’s letters from different times over the course of his life that you begin to appreciate the beauty of his writing and his command of language (Van Gogh was fluent in French as well as Dutch) but also his philosophies and outlook on life. With Valentine’s Day just past, it seemed fitting to share some of his thoughts on love. This excerpt is from a letter he wrote to his brother Theo in March of 1883:
“It may well seem to you that the sun is shining more brightly and that everything has taken on a new charm. That, at any rate, is the inevitable consequence of true love, I believe, and it is a wonderful thing. And I also believe that those who hold that no one thinks clearly when in love are wrong, for it is at just that time that one thinks very clearly indeed and is more energetic than one was before. And love is something eternal, it may change in aspect but not in essence. And there is the same difference between someone who is in love and what he was like before as there is between a lamp that is lit and one that is not. The lamp was there all the time and it was a good lamp, but now it is giving light as well and that is its true function. And one has more peace of mind about many things and so is more likely to do better work.”
View more from Van Gogh’s Letters.
The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters Exhibition
New Van Gogh Painting Uncovered