The title of this book is a bit misleading. More than just “The Life”, this book is more like “Literally Every Single Day in the Life of Vincent Van Gogh”.
I am floored by how much information exists on this man, and it’s no wonder this endeavor took a whole decade for the authors to complete.
One fact is clear though, if you are thinking about reading this to learn more about his artwork, STOP. RIGHT. THERE. The many members of the Van Gogh family were used to sending letters to each other on a regular basis, sometimes multiple times a week, and in Vincent’s case, even multiple times a day. Because of these letters, this book is often able to tell you exactly what happened on every single day of any given week in December 1882.
It is dense and tedious, but if you would like to know every minuscule biographical detail that shaped Van Gogh’s life, this is the book you want to read. But if you specifically want to learn more about his artworks from an aesthetic and technical standpoint, I would not recommend this.
However, this book does tell you <i>exactly</i> where he was and what was going through his head when creating certain artworks. It goes into great detail about The Potato Eaters, for example. Other artworks are glossed over or simply mentioned as being created during a particular time. So if you are doing some research for school, or would like to know about his headspace when creating a certain artwork, I would recommend skimming through until you find the relevant bit.
These authors were also the first to introduce the theory that Van Gogh did not die by suicide, and the last chapter explains their deductive reasoning thoroughly and convincingly. I, for one, fully agree with them.
It took me a year to read this and I couldn’t have done it without daily reading goals and mammoth motivation.
Would recommend to: highly motivated readers, researchers and students who just need to browse through it to write or present a biography for school.
Would not recommend to: people wanting to learn more about Van Gogh’s art specifically. While there is some background information you can glean from here and maybe some hypotheses you could build through this information, this is about Vincent Van Gogh the man, and not just the artwork.