Whether it’s the dreamlike silence of Starry Starry Night or the brilliant colors of sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh is someone whose life and paintings overwhelm us with emotions. Shattered by isolation and uncertainty, his paintings make one think of life’s purpose with strange and beautiful sadness. But not many people know that the universe would have lost the treasure of its Post-Impressionist paintings were it not for Theodorus van Gogh, the brother who changed his life.
Let’s take this journey by Irises through Wheatfield with Crows and walk through the Café Terrace at night until we reach Holland, on May 1, 1857, where Theo was born – the brother behind one of the best Post-Impressionist painters of all time. time.
Dear Theo, Yours sincerely, Vincent
Theo and Vincent exchanged letters throughout their lives. They are a literary treasure in their own right, giving the world an understanding of their relationship, views on art, support for each other, and even intimate feelings. Through these countless letters, we know Vincent, not only as a “crazy” artist at odds with demons, but as a man of depth, spirituality, and intense love. These letters also often included the first sketches of many of his most famous masterpieces. Even in death, Vincent wrote his last letter to Theo with him, still unsent, and stained with his own blood.
Theo’s career and support
Theo was a successful art dealer and worked in the Dutch office of the Parisian art dealers Goupil & Cie in The Hague. Vincent and Theo both started out at the same company. Theo excelled in the position, while Vincent was fired. He told Theo in a letter, “…let us continue to support each other and seek brotherly love.”
It was their brotherly love that kept Vincent and Theo together and helped him take up his stint as a painter. Vincent tried to be a church servant and a bookbinder but failed at both. When he was without work and money, Theo supported him, taking on the role of wise older brother. Vincent quarreled with his father and moved out of his parental home, renting a studio in The Hague, but could not pay the rent. Theo did it for him.
Vincent had this longing to be useful, to serve a purpose in life. Their letters to each other make it clear that Theo was his support, advisor, and financier when he hit a low point in life. Vincent constantly asked Theo’s advice on all matters.
Theo advised Vincent to become an artist.
In one letter, Vincent described his training to be a painter and asked Theo, in an 1880 letter from Belgium writing, “… I feel the need to study figure-drawing… What do you think of croquis? Does the idea sound good to you?”
Vincent sent all his doodles and drawings to Theo, asking for his opinion. Theo knew in his heart Vincent’s passion for drawing and painting and advised him to take up painting as a profession.
In a letter to their sister, Willemian, Theo writes that Vincent is an artist, and even if not everything he paints is beautiful, they all help him later. He admitted that even if Vincent was impractical, if he succeeded as an artist, he would be able to sell his paintings one day. He wanted Vincent to do something good.
Vincent moved to the south of France.
Vincent was not an easy character to live with. When Theo moved to Paris, he advised Vincent to move there in order to get acquainted with the colorful contemporary French art. When they lived together, Theo came to terms with Vincent’s kind, talented, and well-mannered personality, as well as his selfish self who lacked selfish feeling, but continued to support him in his endeavors to become an artist.
Theo’s life developed a huge void when Vincent decided to leave his city life in Paris and move to the south of France. There, Vincent wanted to create an artists’ colony where everyone would live and paint together. But the idea failed, and only one artist, Paul Gauguin, joined him. But Theo continued to encourage Vincent and even paid for Paul’s travel expenses.
Theo supported Vincent through his whims and mental breakdowns.
Vincent and Theo had a great love for each other. Conflicted and sentimental, Vincent yearned to produce good paintings, to achieve a goal in life. He felt mentally broken when he had not yet been able to sell a single painting. He wrote in a letter to Theo that the fact that he spends and brings nothing makes him sad.
Vincent suffered a mental breakdown in 1888 and cut off his left ear in confusion. Theo rushed to Arles to be at his brother’s side. Will he go crazy? Theo’s letters to his fiancée, Jo Bonger, reveal his fear. Unfortunately, however, Vincent’s mental health continued to deteriorate. When Vincent finally checks himself into a mental hospital, Theo’s hopes for his brother’s improvement are slowly shattered.
In a letter he wrote: “It pains me to know that you are still in a state of imperfect health.”
Vincent van Gogh’s art is finally getting recognition.
Van Gogh was not a successful artist during his lifetime but was not recognized until after his death. But the person who was responsible for sharing, distributing and revealing his paintings to the world was Theo. Theo submitted some of Vincent’s paintings to the Salon Independencia, an annual exhibition in Paris. The paintings were slowly creating a buzz, being appreciated, and attracting a lot of attention. Theo wrote in a letter to Vincent in 1890 that he wished he had been there in person to see her.
The last flight
Vincent continued to paint whenever he could in the calm atmosphere of the Saint-Remy Foundation. He continued to send Theo his works and followed his letters. Vincent left Saint-Remy in 1890 and moved to an artists’ village near Paris called Auvers, to live near Theo. Theo was married to Joe and had a little boy, whom they named Vincent Willem. Joe’s letter writes of the two siblings tearfully reuniting as they stare at the sleeping baby Vincent.
Vincent’s last days in the country by drawing and painting were brief moments of happiness for the two brothers, but they did not last long. Theo wanted to set up his own art company, and this meant that he would need his entire capital for his new venture.
Vincent’s painting, Whitfield Under a Thundercloud, was produced during this time, suggesting an allegorical storm brewing in the background. In his letter to Theo, Vincent writes that he is a danger to Theo, and lives at his expense. Both were suffering.
Theo and Vincent: The Last Farewell
When Vincent Theo sent The Starry Night, he showed his progression away from realism. Theo felt his brother slowly walk away. He knew that the world was not ready to understand his art yet, but he continued to encourage him. Send him another 150 francs.
In July 1890, Vincent committed suicide in a wheat field by shooting himself in the chest. Theo rushed to Auvers to be with his brother on his deathbed. His last words to Theo were, “…the grief will last forever.”
Less than three months after Vincent’s death, Theo suffered a complete physical breakdown when he contracted syphilis. His torment was without end, and he died in 1891, six months after his brother, at the age of 33, an end that left Joe distraught, bewildered, and alone. Now they lie with each other in a little cemetery amidst the wheat fields, under the starry night that too soon engulfed them both.