Thursday, October 22, 2009

AMSTERDAM: Van Gogh Museum

A rainy morning in Amsterdam; a perfect time to visit the Van Gogh Museum.

The Van Gogh Museum, as you might expect, is one of the most popular sights in Amsterdam. It houses many of Van Gogh's works (both originals and copies) as well as many of the more than 900 letters he wrote, including many to his brother Theodore. And while many familiar paintings are housed here, including several of his self-portraits, the famous "Starry Night" resides at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City.

What was truly surprising, though it is widely accepted that Van Gogh was virtually unknown during his lifetime, is that his sister-in-law is largely responsible for the fact that Van Gogh is so well-known today.

Van Gogh died in 1890; his brother Theo died less than a year later. In 1914, Theo's wife Jo decided that her brother-in-law's labors should no longer rest in obscurity. She began a campaign of promoting his work, using as a centerpiece of her campaign the numerous letters Vincent and Theo exchanged. A wonderful, heartwarming story...and a great museum well worth a visit.

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