The People Who Made Van Gogh


One thing that I always find strange is how much more important people become after they have already gone. I’m not just talking about the people in our lives but I’m also talking about the people inspire discussion, inspire thought, simply inspire. Perhaps this is because once that person is gone, we stop looking at the person but rather the things that they left behind. One such individual is the late Vincent Van Gogh. While the man has been dead long enough that no one alive will have ever met the man, he still has a prolific effect on many people’s lives to this day. He will likely be remembered for years to come. But what about the people that had the biggest influence in making him the man that he would later become?

He was born in 1853 in Zundert to parents Anna Carbentus and Theodorus van Gogh. When he was born, Vincent had no siblings but as life moved on, he eventually ended up being the eldest sibling of the six Van Gogh children. He had two brothers and three sisters, his youngest brother being born fourteen years after him. The siblings remained close throughout their lives, often offering advice to their other siblings in their hard or trying times. The sibling that Vincent Van Gogh likely spent the most time with was his brother Theodorus, the second eldest male of the Van Gogh family, born four years after Vincent Van Gogh. He was Van Gogh’s closest friend and confidant as well as also holding an interest in art. Theodorus became a successful art dealer under the Goupil Gallery, which later became the Boussod, Valadon & Cie. He often lived near or with his elder brother as he moved from branch to branch, different locations all over Europe, from Brussel to London to Paris. After his elder brothers’ death, Theodorus’ health deteriorated until he eventually died, just months after his brother, in January of 1891. Still, these brothers were close and supported each other through their lives, with Theodorus even financially supporting Vincent, which enabled him to focus on his pursuit of art. Vincent Van Gogh even went as far say ‘If I didn’t have Theo it wouldn’t be possible for me to justice to my work,’. Vincent Van Gogh also maintained friendships with other artists such as Anthon van Rappard, Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, who regularly exchanged letters with Van Gogh. Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin also exchanged paintings with Van Gogh that have since become known as the ‘friend portraits’.

While we see the affect that other people often have on our lives, we often don’t think about the people that made them who they are. Maybe that is their family, maybe its their friends, maybe you have made a difference to the person they are and the person that they have grown to be. Every person is different because they are a combination of different people that make them exactly who they are.


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