Monday Lectures

Zoom lecture



14 June 2021

The Real Van Gogh

The Artist and His Letters

with Ann Dumas

Van Gogh, Self Portrait as an Artist, 1888

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

We are delighted to welcome back Ann Dumas, who will be lecturing on the landmark exhibition of the work of Vincent van Gogh that she curated at the Royal Academy in London in 2010.


At the heart of the exhibition was Van Gogh’s remarkable correspondence: a unique opportunity to gain insight into this complex artist’s mind. During his ten-year artistic career, which his suicide cut tragically short in 1890, Van Gogh’s output was prodigious: largely self-taught, he produced over 800 paintings and 1,200 drawings.


Van Gogh was a compulsive and eloquent correspondent. In reading the letters one encounters not only a sensitive, determined and exceptionally hardworking man, but also someone possessed of a powerful intellect; the exhibition challenged the view that Van Gogh was an erratic genius by allowing the viewer a rare insight into his artistic process through the intimate medium of his correspondence.


The letter sketches that Van Gogh frequently used to show a work in progress or a completed work are a fascinating part of the correspondence, and many were shown alongside the paintings or drawings on which they are based. Ann will be showing us some of the 35, rarely exhibited, original letters that were on display, along with some of the 65 paintings and 30 drawings that express the principal themes to be found within the correspondence.

Letter 783 from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, Cypresses, 1889.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

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