The Real Van Gogh exhibition: The artist and his letters
Royal Academy of Arts, until 18 April
His paintings are revered, but people know little of Vincent Van Gogh the man, other than as a ginger-bearded, slightly mad but brilliant artist who cut off part of his ear and shot himself.
Billed as the most important Van Gogh show in London for 40 years, this exhibition aims to bring us closer to the man behind the art by displaying his private letters alongside his work.
Socially isolated for much of his adult life, pen and paper were often Van Gogh's only companions. This loneliness fuelled extraordinary writing and his letters offer an excellent insight into his thoughts, feelings and experiences, from the banal and everyday—finances, lodgings and eating arrangements—to profound meditations on life, death, poetry, novels and, of course, art.
In a letter to his brother, Theo, on 20 October, 1888, Van Gogh wrote: "I cannot help it that my pictures do not sell. Nevertheless the time will come when people will see that they are worth more than the price of the paint."
In total, the exhibition includes 819 letters. The first was written in 1872 when he was just 19, the last a few days before he shot himself in July 1890.