William J. Havlicek’s revealing book about Vincent van Gogh is based largely on Vincent’s astonishing letters of which over 900 exist. The letters, first released in 1914, were publicly exhibited for the first time in late 2009 at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Based on these letters, and the testimony of others who knew Vincent well rather than on conjecture or hyperbole, Van Gogh’s Untold Journey dispels much of the myth that has come to surround the artist’s tumultuous life. In the words of the author, “The letters reveal an unknown, adventurous, deeply compassionate Vincent whose essence seems to have been lost in the dramatic and often apocryphal stories surrounding his illness and early death. My effort therefore was to unveil these unknown aspects of Vincent—ones that could be considered heroic and certainly praiseworthy.”
This important book, the result of over 15 years of dedicated research, provides deep insight into the artist’s true character, nurtured from his abiding faith, the influence of family, and the tender solicitude he felt for mankind.
Van Gogh’s Untold Journey holds many other compelling revelations, among them the role played by Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, his sister-in-law, without whom little of the inimitable Vincent would ever have been known; and the artist’s vicarious relationship with Charles Dickens. Perhaps most revealing is Havlicek’s discovery of how the inspired words of Victor Hugo, embodied in one of his characters in Les Misérables, gave Van Gogh the idea for one of his most celebrated paintings of all: The Starry Night. This particular revelation has astonished the art world.
“Dr. Havlicek offers an intimate perspective on the life of Van Gogh through an examination of Vincent’s personal letters to his family. I enjoyed learning about Vincent’s faith, his struggles in relationships with others and with God, and how he translated life’s issues into his artwork. The book itself is gorgeous, full of large color plates that accompany the text. Holding this book in your hands feels like holding something of top quality. Open the book to any passage, and the sense of quality is reinforced through the content. Dr. Havlicek writes with passion, intelligence, and clarity, creating a book with provocative insights, interesting connections, and lessons about the preciousness of life. It will inspire you!” ~ Amazon Reviewer Tiburon SC
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