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“Books and reality and art are the same kind of thing for me.”
One of the most famous artists in history, Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) was also a man with another powerful passion—for books. An insatiable reader, Van Gogh spent his life hungrily consuming as many books as he could. He read, reread, and copied out books in Dutch, English, and French. He knew many passages by heart from works by Dickens, Zola, Shakespeare, and Maupassant, among many others. As he wrote to his brother, Theo, in one of their hundreds of letters: “I have a more or less irresistible passion for books.”
In Vincent’s Books, Mariella Guzzoni explores Van Gogh’s life as a voracious bookworm, noting what he read, what he wrote about, and how his love of reading influenced his art. She walks us through his life, chapter by chapter: from the religious aspirations of his early adulthood, to his decision to be a painter, to the end of his tragically short life. He moved from Holland to Paris to Provence; at each moment, ideas he encountered in books defined and guided his thoughts and his worldview. Van Gogh wrote with eloquence and insight about what he was reading in his letters to Theo, referring to at least two hundred authors. Books and readers are frequent subjects of his paintings, and Guzzoni highlights over one hundred of these works, such as Still Life with Bible in the Van Gogh Museum and his vivid paintings of l’Arlesienne.
A gorgeously illustrated biography that will appeal to any booklover, Vincent’s Books takes us on a fresh, fascinating journey through the pages of a beloved artist’s life.
Explore Van Gogh’s musings on his favorite writers, including
Thomas à Kempis, Charles Blanc, Honoré de Balzac, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Dickens, Erckmann-Chatrian, Homer, Victor Hugo, Pierre Loti, Jules Michelet, William Shakespeare, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Émile Zola
About the Author
Mariella Guzzoni is an independent scholar and art curator living in Bergamo, Italy. Over many years, she has collected editions of the books that Vincent van Gogh read and loved.
"During this meandering journey through Holland, Paris, Provence, and beyond, Guzzoni reveals just how much Van Gogh’s favorite books and authors defined his life and art."