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, 1 October 1888, Letter 17, page 2
nature you have to see in order to develop your talent as
a painter and colorist to its full extent. But that can be done only to the detriment of your poor
carcass, if your father does not make it possible for you to avoid becoming anemic or to catch
debilitating dysentery through lack of strengthening food before this African ordeal.
It's scarcely possible to make yourself strong over there, and if you go to a hot climate, I'm far
from saying you have to fatten yourself up beforehand, but I do say you have to pay attention to
your food for some time in advance. And I'm sticking to that, having found myself doing well here
on that regime, and the heat of Africa is something different again from that of Arles.
You'll emerge from this ordeal of your service much stronger, and strong enough for a whole
career as an artist or—broken.