Purchase cataloguePainted with Words is a compelling look at Vincent van Gogh's correspondence to his young colleague Émile Bernard between 1887 and 1889. Van Gogh's words and sketches reveal his thoughts about art and life and communicate his groundbreaking work in Arles to his fellow painter.
Van Gogh's letters to Bernard reveal the tenor of their relationship. Van Gogh assumed the role of an older, wiser brother, offering praise or criticism of Bernard's paintings, drawings, and poems. At the same time the letters chronicle van Gogh's own struggles, as he reached his artistic maturity in isolation in Arles and St. Rémy. Throughout the letters are no less than twelve sketches by van Gogh meant to provide Bernard with an idea of his work in progress, including studies related to the paintings The Langlois Bridge, Houses at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Boats on the beach at Saintes-Maries, The Sower, and View of Arles at Sunset.
The translations used in this presentation are from the catalogue for the exhibition: Vincent van Gogh
Painted with Words, The Letters to Émile Bernard and are reproduced by kind permission of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
Major support for Painted with Words: Vincent van Gogh's Letters to Émile Bernard and its accompanying catalogue was provided by the International Music and Art Foundation. Generous support was also provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 15 July 1888, Letter 10, page 2
A microscopic figure of a plowman, a little train passing through the wheat fields; that's the only
life there is in it. Listen, I passed—a few days after my arrival—that place with a painter friend.
There's something that would be boring to do, he said. I said nothing myself, but I found that so
astonishing that I didn't even have the strength to give that idiot a piece of my mind. I go back there,
go back, go back again—well, I've done two drawings of it—of that flat landscape in which there was
nothing but . . . the infinite . . . eternity.
Well—while I'm drawing along comes a chap who isn't a painter but a soldier. I say, "Does it
astonish you that I find that as beautiful as the sea?" Now he knew the sea—that one. "No—it doesn't
astonish me"—he says—"that you find that