Vincent van Gogh was an impressionist painter. Learn what that art style includes and discover other impressionist artists.
Much of what we know of Van Gogh is because of his letters to friends and family. The following is his last letter he ever wrote. It was penned on Thursday, July 10, to his brother Theo and sister-in-law Jo. What are the feelings of the letter? What things were troubling him? What brought him peace?
Dear brother and sister,
Jo’s letter was really like a gospel for me, a deliverance from anguish which I was caused by the rather difficult and laborious hours for us all that I shared with you. It’s no small thing when all together we feel the daily bread in danger, no small thing when for other causes than that we also feel our existence to be fragile.
Once back here I too still felt very saddened, and had continued to feel the storm that threatens you also weighing upon me. What can be done – you see I usually try to be quite good-humoured, but my life, too, is attacked at the very root, my step also is faltering. I feared – not completely – but a little nonetheless – that I was a danger to you, living at your expense – but Jo’s letter clearly proves to me that you really feel that for my part I am working and suffering like you.
There – once back here I set to work again – the brush however almost falling from my hands and – knowing clearly what I wanted I’ve painted another three large canvases since then. They’re immense stretches of wheatfields under turbulent skies, and I made a point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness. You’ll see this soon, I hope – for I hope to bring them to you in Paris as soon as possible, since I’d almost believe that these canvases will tell you what I can’t say in words, what I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside.
Now the third canvas is Daubigny’s garden, a painting I’d been thinking about ever since I’ve been here.
I hope with all my heart that the planned journey may provide you with a little distraction.
I often think of the little one, I believe that certainly it’s better to bring up children than to expend all one’s nervous energy in making paintings, but what can you do, I myself am now, at least I feel I am, too old to retrace my steps or to desire something else. This desire has left me, although the moral pain of it remains. I very much regret not having seen Guillaumin again, but it pleases me that he’s seen my canvases. If I’d waited for him I would probably have stayed to talk with him in such a way as to miss my train.
Wishing you luck and good heart and relative prosperity, please tell Mother and Sister sometime that I think of them very often, besides this morning I have a letter from them and will reply shortly.
Handshakes in thought.
My money won’t last me very long this time, as on my return I had to pay the baggage costs from Arles.
I retain very good memories of this trip to Paris. A few months ago, I little dared hope to see our friends again. I thought that Dutch lady had a great deal of talent.
Lautrec’s painting, portrait of a female musician, is quite astonishing, it moved me when I saw it.
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What is your favorite work of art featured in this book? Explain why. How do you think Van Gogh was feeling when he painted it?
Have you read any other books about an artist? How was their life similar to or different from Van Gogh’s?
Why do you think Van Gogh’s artwork is so popular around the world? Do you believe art has an emotional effect on people?