Vincent van Gogh's short, passionate life was driven by
an almost unimaginable creative energy that eventually
overwhelmed him. The outlines of his story - the early
strivings in Holland and Paris, the revelatory impact of the
move to Provence, the attacks of madness that led ineluctably
to his suicide - are almost as familiar as the paintings. Yet it is
more than possible that neither the paintings nor Van Gogh's
story would have survived at all if it had not been for his
remarkable sister in law, Jo van Gogh-Bonger.
After Vincent's death and that of her husband, his brother
Theo, Jo devoted her life to preserving and exhibiting the
paintings, and editing the letters. It is in her short and
unaccountably neglected biography that we can come closest
to Vincent the man.
Jo van Gogh-Bonger (1862-1925) teacher, translator and pioneer socialist, married Van Gogh's brother Theo in 1889. After the death of both brothers the following year she devoted herself to promoting Vincent's art and writings, organizing major exhibitions, and editing the letters. Her son Vincent-Willem continued the work at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.