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Ever Yours: The Essential Letters

Ever Yours: The Essential Letters

by Vincent van Gogh, Leo Jansen (Editor), Hans Luijten (Editor), Nienke Bakker (Editor)

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"There is scarcely one letter by Van Gogh which I, who am certainly no expert, do not find fascinating." —W. H. Auden

In addition to his many remarkable paintings and drawings, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) left behind a fascinating and voluminous body of correspondence. This highly accessible book includes a broad selection of 265 letters,


"There is scarcely one letter by Van Gogh which I, who am certainly no expert, do not find fascinating." —W. H. Auden

In addition to his many remarkable paintings and drawings, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) left behind a fascinating and voluminous body of correspondence. This highly accessible book includes a broad selection of 265 letters, from a total of 820 in existence, that focus on Van Gogh’s relentless quest to find his destiny, a search that led him to become an artist; the close bond with his brother Theo; his fraught relationship with his father; his innate yearning for recognition; and his great love of art and literature. The correspondence not only offers detailed insights into Van Gogh’s complex inner life, but also re-creates the world in which he lived and the artistic avant-garde that was taking hold in Paris.
The letters are accompanied by a general introduction, historic family photographs, and reproductions of 87 actual pages of letters that contain sketches by Van Gogh. Selected from the critically acclaimed 6-volume set of letters published by the Van Gogh Museum in 2009, Ever Yours is the essential book on Van Gogh’s letters, which every art and literature lover needs to own.  

Editorial Reviews

The Financial Times - Jackie Wullschlager
'No artist was ever a more engaging, vivid, honest, yearning, generous correspondent: you can open this selection on any page and be instantly riveted. Marvellously condensed from the Van Gogh Museum’s landmark six-volume 2009 edition.'—Jackie Wullschlager, The Financial Times
Daily Beast - Nick Mafi
“The truth about Vincent van Gogh, the very core of his struggles, beliefs, madness, and ambitions can be found in his collected letters, Ever Yours.”—Nick Mafi, Daily Beast
Brainpickings - Maria Popova
“A revelatory read in its hefty totality, brimming with insights into the rich and turbulent inner life of one of humanity’s greatest creative luminaries.”—Maria Popova, Brainpickings
Mic - Sophie Kleeman
“Of all the qualities we associate with Vincent Van Gogh, ‘giver of profound life advice’ generally doesn't top the list. But based on the insights contained within [Ever Yours], a collection of letters written by the artist himself, perhaps it should.”—Sophie Kleeman, Mic
Apollo Magazine
‘A fitting tribute in the year that marks the 125th anniversary of the artist’s death.’—Apollo Magazine.
Huffington Post
A Best Art Book of 2014 — Huffington Post
Waterbury [CT] Republican-American - Alan Bisbort
“This book will soothe your artistic soul even as it breaks your heart. . . . [Van Gogh] does not come across as the wild-eyed, ear-severing artist of his myth in this extraordinary volume, comprised of 265 carefully selected letters, many illustrated with his sketches and doodles. . . . The real surprise, and delight, of this volume is to learn that Van Gogh was not trained as an artist. He was a writer who happened to work in the art trade and his real aspiration was to become a preacher. . . . Get this book for the artist in the family who believes he or she has seen it all already.”—Alan Bisbort, Waterbury [CT] Republican-American
The Independent - Boyd Tonkin
“[Van Gogh’s letters] make up not only a creative autobiography without parallel in visual art but what the editors of a new selection call ‘a highlight of world literature.’. . . Lovers not only of great art but great autobiography should devour this ample sample. A bargain at 770 pages, enriched by scores of the drawings (or ‘croquis’) with which Vincent explained his works-in-progress, the volume knits 265 letters into a coherent, impassionaed, and eloquent pilgrim’s progress”—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
Paris Review "Daily" - Dan Piepenbring
“Frequently more absorbing, expansive, and instructive than a collection of letters ought to be.”—Dan Piepenbring, Paris Review’s “Daily” Blog
Library Journal
★ 12/01/2014
Generally known today for his paintings and drawings, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) is believed to have suffered from a form of epilepsy that contributed to bouts of madness and his suicide. He also became famous for his life story and for his letters—he left behind more than 900 of them, 265 of which are in this collection edited by Jansen, former curator at the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; senior researcher Hans Luijten; and Nienke Bakker, curator of paintings, van Gogh Museum. Selected from the same editors' six-volume Vincent van Gogh: The Letters; The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition (2009), these "essential" missives focus on the painter's complex inner life, his quest to find his vocation and destiny, his desire for recognition, and his close relationships with other artists, individuals, family members, and his brother Theo, who supported him in various ways. Including a 39-page general introduction, family photographs, and reproductions of 87 letters that contain sketches by van Gogh, this correspondence also evidences details about his significant knowledge of art, literature, the art market, the avant-garde art worlds of 19th-century artists, and art centers, such as Paris, Brussels, and the Hague. VERDICT Of considerable interest to art lovers, students, scholars, and others, this affordable, well-presented, and scholarly publication is very highly recommended for many academic, large public, and special library art book collections.—Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Kirkus Reviews
The artist's troubled life revealed in letters. In 2009, an illustrated edition of hundreds of letters by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was published, annotated by specialists affiliated with the Van Gogh Museum. These letters now are available at vangoghletters.org, which is continually updated by the Van Gogh Letters Project. Scholars and researchers undoubtedly will consult the authoritative website, since this selection of 265 letters, aimed at general readers, contains few notes or explanatory material. The editors' introduction contextualizes the letters somewhat by offering a helpful, but brief, overview of van Gogh's life. The letters serve as a kind of autobiography, attesting to van Gogh's engagement in art, his trials and aspirations, and, most vividly, his relationship with his younger brother Theo, to whom most letters are addressed. In the late 1870s, van Gogh was floundering, having worked at an art gallery, as a clerk in a bookstore and as an assistant teacher. Obsessed with religion, he decided to become a minister but failed at theology studies and at gaining admittance to a training course to become an evangelist. His volatility and mood swings so alarmed his parents that they considered committing him to a psychiatric hospital. Theo, heroically patient, encouraged his brother to pursue a career in art, which had interested Vincent since youth. By the fall of 1880, Vincent told Theo that he was "working like mad," drawing, learning "a wealth of anatomy," and hoping "that these thorns will bear white flowers in their time, and that this apparently sterile struggle is nothing other than a labour of giving birth." The majority of the letters chronicle the artist's final 10 years: his art studies in Antwerp and Paris, move to Arles, artistic admirations, and his deteriorating physical and mental health, which he blamed partly on a "too artistic way of life" and partly on "fatal inheritance." His descriptions of his own paintings are poetically evocative, and his long, detailed, emotional outpourings offer insight into his suffering, loneliness and dreams. More context would have been appreciated, but the choices are illuminating of an iconic artist.

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Yale University Press
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7.00(w) x 10.30(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author

Leo Jansen, formerly curator of paintings at the Van Gogh Museum, is editor of the Mondrian Edition Project. Hans Luijten is a senior researcher and Nienke Bakker is curator of paintings at the Van Gogh Museum. 

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