A Trilogy in Full Color

Told in three dynamic episodes, this is the story of the remarkable Johanna Van Gogh-Bonger who,
after his death, became both custodian and advocate of Vincent van Gogh’s vast collection of paintings,
drawings and letters. It was through Johanna’s dedicated action and commitment to preserving Vincent’s
legacy that we can now dispel much of the myth that has besieged that inimitable artist’s tumultuous life and,
with facts rather than conjecture, illuminate Vincent’s legitimate and precious legacy for posterity.


Authors David A. Glen and William J. Havlicek, in their new, full-color 360-page trilogy, have produced the most comprehensive and factual account of the life and legacy of the illustrious artist, Vincent van Gogh, drawing from the hundreds of letters between Vincent and his benevolent brother Theo, and most importantly from the diaries and correspondence of one of history’s most remarkable women, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. And this literary tour de force finally dispels much of the myth and conjecture that has come to surround the artist’s tumultuous life.

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 the keeper and advocate of Vincent’s immense collection of drawings and studio materials 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.

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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 Van Gogh paintings and drawings to the affluent collector Helene Kroller-Muller. These now comprise the second-largest collection of Van Gogh’s artwork, now on display in the Kroller-Muller 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 Kroller-Muller, 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 three vibrant episodes, demonstrate that Johanna, through her dedicated action and commitment to preserving Vincent’s legacy, was to forever change the history of art.

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Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida was the eldest child born to a tradesman, also named Joaquin, and his wife, Concepcion Bastida. His sister, Concha, was born a year later. In August 1865, both children were orphaned when their parents died, possibly from cholera. They were thereafter cared for by their maternal aunt and uncle.

He received his initial art education at the age of fourteen in his native town, and then under a succession of teachers including Cayetano Capuz, Salustiano Asenjo. At the age of eighteen, he traveled to Madrid, vigorously studying master paintings in the Museo del Prado. After completing his military service at twenty-two, Sorolla obtained a grant which enabled a four year term to study painting in Rome, Italy, where he was welcomed by and found stability in the example of F. Pradilla, the director of the Spanish Academy in Rome. A long sojourn to Paris in 1885 provided his first exposure to modern painting; of special influence were exhibitions of Jules Bastien-Lepage and Adolf von Menzel. Back in Rome, he studied with Jose Benlliure, Emilio Sala, and Jose Villegas.

In 1888, Sorolla returned to Valencia to marry Clotilde Garcia del Castillo, whom he had first met in 1879, while working in her father’s studio. By 1895, they would have three children together: Maria, born in 1890, Joaquin, born in 1892, and Elena, born in 1895. In 1890, they moved to Madrid where, for the next decade, Sorolla’s efforts as an artist were focussed mainly on the production of large canvases of orientalist, mythological, historical, and social subjects, for display in salons and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago.