Nuenen – 1884, March

“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to…. The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.”

This is elaborated in detail found in the letter dating March, 1884 (Vincent was 30 years old) from Nuenen:

My strongest sympathies in the literary as well as in the artistic field are with those artists in whom I see the soul at work most strongly – Israëls, for example, is clever as a technician, but so is Vollon – but I like Israëls more than Vollon because I see something more in Israëls, something quite different from the masterly reproduction of the materials, something quite different from light and brown, something quite different from the colour – yet that something quite different is achieved by the precise rendering of the light effect, the material, the colour.


Vincent van Gogh wrote about Jozef Israëls who was a Dutch landscape painter with mastery in landscape. (Don’t know the other painter named Vollon (?) Click and find about Antoine Vollon – I know, I don’t like Wiki but it does the trick most of the times)

He was a leading figure of The Hague School. The story of Israels-family carries on after Vincent van Gogh’s death, when Jo-Bonger (Theo van Gogh’s wife) granted the Sunflowers painting to Isaac Israels which he made a homage paintings to Vincent van Gogh.

Isaac Israels Sunflowers Painting -> Click Here

Arles – 1888, July

Perhaps this is one of the most famous quotes by Vincent:
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. 
In another English translation, which I find to be more reflective of how Vincent van Gogh wrote in French:
For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it. But to look at the stars always makes me dream.
as simply as I dream over the black dots of a map representing towns and villages. Why, I ask myself, should the shining dots of the sky not be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? If we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoning is this: that while we are alive we cannot get to a star, any more than when we are dead we can take the train.
From Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh.
Vincent was 35 years old and Theo was 31 years old.
In 1888, July, Arles.

The Hague – 1883, February

If women do not always show in their thoughts the energy and elasticity of men, who are disposed towards reflection and analysis, we cannot blame them, at least in my opinion, because in general they have to spend so much more strength than we in suffering pain. They suffer more and are more sensitive.

Written from Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother Theo van Gogh.

The beginning of the letter mentions of a woman whom Theo had befriended with since Paris. She was a sick and alone at the time of their friendship and this may have been to Vincent a profound reminiscent with his relationship with Siene – a prostitute left deserted on the street which the Sketch The Sorrow was entitled to.

My hearty congratulations for Father’s birthday, and thanks for your letter, which I was very glad to receive just now. I congratulate you especially on the operation being over. Such things as you describe make one shudder! May the worst be over now, at least the crisis is past! Poor woman!

Vincent was 29 years old.
Theo was 25 years old.

Arles – 1888, May

Can’t you see that similarly self-sacrifice, living for other people, is a mistake if it involves suicide, for in that case you actually turn your friends into murderers.

At times, Vincent van Gogh’s words reveal the meanings beyond the words. He doesn’t complicate with fancy vocabularies but only in manner he feels natural.

“To live for others such as friends, to sacrifice for them…” he says: “is to turn them into murderers in a suicide.” And for us to think that he may had killed himself… but without a resentment for any of his friends…

So if it has come to this, that you have to travel around like this, with never any peace, it honestly kills any desire in me to get back my own ease of mind. 

Ever yours, Vincent

Letter written from Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother Theodore (Theo) van Gogh.
On the 25th May, 1888 in Arles.

Vincent was 35 years old & Theo was 31 years old at that time.

Paris – 1857, September

How I should like it if we could have breakfast together or drink a cup of chocolate in my room. Keep courage, old fellow,

Just a breakfast and a cup of hot chocolate or tea? Coffee if you fancy. Isn’t the most obvious things at time the most profound feelings one can write about?

Don’t take things that don’t really concern you very closely too much to heart, and don’t let them hit you too hard.

How about eating bread, have you tried that? In a great hurry I shake your hand warmly in thought.

From Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother Theo van Gogh.
This was written when Vincent was 22 years old.

He finishes it by saying:

Your affectionate brother, Vincent

Write again soon.