Although there have been numerous past accounts of the life of Vincent van Gogh—some reasonable and some apocryphal—David A. Glen and William J. Havlicek have now produced the most comprehensive anthology and factual account of the celebrated artist’s short yet incredibly productive life, thanks to the ardent advocacy, diaries, and correspondence of one of history’s most remarkable women, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. What’s more, the entire online content about this fascinating woman and how she became Vincent’s most ardent advocate is entirely free at creativestorytellers.com
Had it not been for the remarkable Johanna, virtually nothing of the illustrious #vincentvangogh we know of today would have come to light.
Told in a beautifully illustrated anthology of sixteen vibrant episodes, and drawing from over 20 years of research, including the many hundreds of letters between Vincent and his benevolent brother Theo, this literary tour de force finally dispels much of the myth and conjecture that has come to surround the artist’s tumultuous life, and illustrates with dynamic narrative and imagery Van Gogh’s Enduring Legacy.
Johanna was Vincent’s sister-in-law, and Theo’s wife. After the deaths of Vincent and Theo, who both died in their 30s and within a year of each other, Johanna became both conservator and ardent advocate of the immense collection of #vangogh paintings and drawings that had been left to her young son and heir, also named Vincent. Johanna was to single-handedly preserve and chronicle over 520 hand-written letters (eventually more than 900 would come to light) without which we would never have understood the devoted relationship and interdependence Vincent had with his brother Theo, nor the remarkable beneficence that lay at the very core of the Van Gogh family as a whole. Most importantly, we might never have known the true nature and accomplishments of the extraordinary Vincent van Gogh.
Glen and Havlicek have carefully researched letters and documents that accurately portray Johanna as a woman whose indomitable and tenacious spirit met with great antipathy in a time when women were not welcome in the world of art dealing. Yet her steadfast determination and stamina were soon to attract the attention of principal art dealers, including the renowned Cassirer and Bremmer, who were to orchestrate the sale of a large number of #vincentvangogh paintings and drawings to the affluent collector Helene Kröller-Müller. These now comprise the second-largest collection of Van Gogh’s artwork, now on display in the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands. Helene Kroller-Muller’s collection of Vincent’s art also plays a fascinating role in the saga of a wealthy German family’s fall from grace in post-war Holland.
Johanna’s ardent advocacy, and that of the caring and steadfast Theo, together with the prestigious patronage of Helene Kröller-Müller, are inextricably tied to the very existence of one of history’s artistic icons in the person of Vincent van Gogh. Glen and Havlicek, in their vibrant, beautifully illustrated anthology of 16 episodes, demonstrate that Johanna, through her dedicated action and commitment to preserving Vincent’s legacy, was to forever change the history of art.