Vincent van Gogh letters online

As is well-known, artist Vincent van Gogh admitted himself to the Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum at Saint-Rémy de Provence in 1889, a year after he famously cut off his own ear. Van Gogh painted a number of works during his time at the asylum including Starry Night.

What does not appear to be as well-known: the complete collection of Vincent van Gogh’s letters, a total of 874 letters, is available online. The letters were published originally in print in 2000 and consist primarily of communication between the artist and his family.

For AHP readers, I recommend the letters written during van Gogh’s later years – those written during his stay at the asylum (May 1889-May 1890) and those written in the year of his suicide when was staying with Dr. Paul Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise (1890).

For more information on Van Gogh’s stay at the asylum, the following selection of titles may be of assistance:

Arnold, W. N. (2004). The illness of Vincent van Gogh. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 13(1), 22-43.

Redfield Jamison, K. (1993). Touched with fire: Manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. NY: The Free Press.

As was announced by Mind Hacks earlier this summer, The British Journal of Psychiatry published correspondence related to van Gogh’s time at the asylum.

About Jennifer Bazar

Jennifer Bazar is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. Her research focuses on the history of psychiatric institutionalization.