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Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Goghby Irving Stone
Synopses & Reviews
andquot;I believe in the absolute necessity of a new art of colour, of drawing andandmdash;of the artistic life,andquot; Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in 1888. andquot;And if we work in that faith, it seems to me that thereand#39;s a chance that our hopes wonand#39;t be in vain.andquot; His prediction would come true. In his brief and explosively creative lifeandmdash;he committed suicide a few years later at the age of thirty-sevenandmdash;Van Gogh made us see the world in a new way. His shining landscapes of Provence and somber portraits of workers shattered the relationship between light and dark, and his hallucinatory visions were so bright they nearly blinded the world.
He was a great writer as well. In his six hundredandndash;plus letters to Theo he chronicled with heartbreaking urgency his mental breakdowns, acrimonious family relations, and struggles with art dealers, who largely ignored him until the last years of his life. Shading this dark story is the artistandrsquo;s acquaintance with prostitutes and penury, stormy scenes with his friend Paul Gauguin, and dissipated Parisian nights with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Julian Bellandrsquo;s passion for his subject brings the painter to life. Bell writes with slashing intensity, at once scholarly and defiantly partisan. andldquo;I have written this book out of my love for Vincent van Gogh, the uniquely exciting painter, and Vincent van Gogh, the letter writer of heart-piercing eloquence,andrdquo; he declares. For Bell, Van Gogh was an artistic genius and more: he was a wonder of the world.
A passionate account of the tortured life and tragic death of the greatest artist of the nineteenth century, by renowned critic and painter Julian Bell.
Vanand#160;Gogh is a vivid portrait of the great Impressionist painter that traces his life from the Netherlands, where he was born into a family of art dealers, through his years in England, the Hague, andand#160;Paris, to his final home in Arles, where he discovered the luminous style of his late paintings before his suicide at the age of thirty-seven.
Vanand#160;Gogh struggled to find his way as an artist:and#160;Well into his mid-twenties he had achieved virtually nothing except a few charcoal drawings of coal miners. Afflicted by mental illness and a mercurial temper, he was institutionalized several times toward the end of his life. Julian Bell conveys this tragic story with great compassion, depicting van Gogh in all his anguished vigor, a genius for whom the greatest challenge was to stay alive until he had completed his most fully realized and magnificent works.
Van Gogh's brother Theo was his confidant and companion, and, in his letters to him, Van Gogh reveals himself as artist and man. Even more than if he had purposely intended to tell his life story, Van Gogh's letters lay bare his deepest feelings, as well as his everyday concerns and his views of the world of art.
About the Author
Irving Stone was born in San Francisco on July 14, 1903. He wrote several books in a genre that he coined the “biographical novel,” which recounted the lives of well-known historical figures. In these novels, Stone interspersed biography with fictional narrative on the psychology and private lives of his subjects. He also wrote biographies of Clarence Darrow and Earl Warren, and short biographies of men who lost presidential elections. He died on August 26, 1989.
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