For years now, I try to remember the anniversary of his death (I try to remember his birth too, the 30th of March 1853)… He meant – and still mean – so much for me, as a human being, as an artist. He is a source of unending inspiration and, especially, of hope.
His life, so full of pain and sorrow but also, here and there, full of moments of solar joy and elation, most of them felt during his work as a painter, teach as that creation can be a lifesaver, that art can give a meaning to our life. A meaning that otherwise our lives wouldn’t have…
His life and work give us also hope. He was a no good bum, a nobody, a mental case, “un raté” in the opinion of his family (except in Theo’s opinion and maybe his sister Wilhelmina; but they too had their moments of doubt…) and in the opinion of 99% of his contemporaries. His paintings almost never sold during his life, and when they sold the price was ridiculous. But then, slowly, his legend (one can say even his myth) began to gain in force and now his paintings are the pride of the most reputable museums and collectors in the whole world.
Of course, he did not lived to enjoy this, as it usually happens… But still, one can hope and dream that maybe…somehow…someday…the paintings he puts his/her soul in could be of some value. Or at least, give a little joy to someone…
In his honor, I will post his last letter and also one of the reproduction I like best.
There is a note at the top in Theo’s handwriting on it: “Letter he was carrying on him July 29”’. In fact, it is obviously a rough draught of letter 651].
“My dear brother,
Thanks for your kind letter and for the 50 fr. note it contained
There are many things I should like to write you about, but I feel it is pointless. I hope you have found these gentlemen favorably disposed toward you.
Your reassuring me as to the state of peace of your household was not worth the trouble, I think, having seen the other side of it for myself. And I quite agree with you that rearing a boy on a fourth floor is a hell of a job for you as well as Jo.
Since it is going well, which is the main thing, I should insist on things of less importance. My word, before we have a chance of talking business more calmly, there is probably a long way to go.That is all I want to say, that I noted it with a certain fright and I cannot hide it. But that is all there is to it.
The other painters, whatever they think of it, instinctively keep themselves at a distance from discussions about actual trade.
Well, the truth is, we cannot speak other than by our paintings. But still, my dear brother, there is this that I have always told you, and I repeat it once more with all the earnestness that can be imparted by an effort of a mind diligently fixed on trying to do as well as one can – I tell you again that I shall always consider that you are something other than a simple dealer in Corots, that through my mediation you have your part in the actual production of some canvases, which even in the cataclysm retain their calm.
For this is what we have got to, and this is all or at least the chief thing that I can have to tell you at a moment of comparative crisis. At a moment when things are very strained between dealers in paintings by dead artists, and living artists.
Well, my work to me, I risk my life on it, and my reason has half foundered – all right – but you are not one of those dealers in men, as far as I know, and you can take sides, I find, truly acting with humanity, but what is the use?”
At this time, Vincent was 37 year old