Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Other Van Gogh...

Of all that is popularly known about Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) , few know that his original job as a 20 year old was at Goupil et Cie, art dealers located in the Hague. In time, Vincent became disenchanted with the notion of art being treated as a commodity. Lucky for Vincent, his younger brother, Theo (1857-1891)(photo left) didn't agree with that notion and also worked at Goupil et Cie.

Theo would give all the money that he could to help Vincent in his career. The facts of Theo's efforts to help Vincent are legendary. Usually, the story of Theo ends there. However, Theo did a great deal to support all the impressionist painters.

To some degree, art is a commodity (sorry, Vincent)and like the stock market, a dealer needs to make a market for an artist. Theo was one of the art dealers who created popularity and a market for artists such as Degas and Monet. Can you imagine what that must have taken? (Degas painting above left-Monet directly right.)

At that time, the Academie de Beaux-Artes set the standard of art as being realistic and highly polished. The jury for exhibitions would refuse entry to "radical" impressionistic painters. Against all this, it must have been hard for Theo to sell art as a commodity that might not be an appreciating asset. Yet, he did. I can't help but think of Theo not only as a steadfast, loyal and patient brother but also a man with a futuristic eye.


  1. Interesting to know that Theo was responsible for promoting Monet and Degas... Love these gems you send out. Ari

  2. I did not know about Theo, which proves that my education in art history is lacking. Anyway what a loyal brother and lover of art. How all of us as artists would love to have someone in our corner promoting our art so we can just paint.

  3. I was aware that the impressionists were not considered "proper" artists at the time, but I had no idea Theo was promoting them. He was a brave man to go against the norm of the time. I wonder what there might be in the art world in another hundred years. sz