Beyond Stories

Unveiling Vincent Van Gogh’s Lesser-Known Role as an Art Dealer

Unveiling Vincent Van Gogh’s Lesser-Known Role as an Art Dealer

Vincent Van Gogh self portrait, Paris, Spring 1887/Summer 1887 | Wikimedia Commons

Vincent Van Gogh, renowned for his stunning artworks that continue to captivate audiences worldwide, is often celebrated as a pioneering artist of the late 19th century. However, amidst the vibrant strokes and vivid colors of his masterpieces lies a lesser-known facet of his life – his involvement as an art dealer. While the name Van Gogh conjures images of sunflowers and starry nights, delving into his history unveils a surprising narrative of art brokerage and commercial pursuits.

Art Dealing was a Family Affair

Van Gogh’s journey into the realm of art dealership is intertwined with the story of his brother, Theo Van Gogh. Theo, unlike Vincent, pursued a career in art dealing and played a pivotal role in shaping his brother’s artistic endeavors. As an art dealer himself, Theo established connections within the art world, laying the foundation for Vincent’s eventual foray into the trade.

Although Vincent’s stint as an art dealer is not as extensively documented as his artistic pursuits, historical evidence suggests his involvement in the field. Some scholars argue that Vincent’s tenure at Goupil & Cie, an art dealership in Paris, provided him with invaluable insights into the workings of the art market. While employed at Goupil & Cie, Vincent immersed himself in the world of art, honing his understanding of artistic techniques and styles, which undoubtedly influenced his later works as an artist.

Drawing by Lucien Pissarro of Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo van Gogh in a conversation from 1887 | Wiki Commons

Testimony Through Letters

Furthermore, Vincent’s correspondence with Theo sheds light on his engagement with art brokerage. In letters exchanged between the brothers, Vincent often discussed matters related to art trading, indicating his active involvement in the business side of the art world. These letters serve as a testament to Vincent’s multifaceted interests and his willingness to explore various avenues within the realm of art.

Theo, as Vincent’s supportive brother and trusted art dealer, played a crucial role in promoting Vincent’s artworks. Through Theo’s efforts, Vincent’s paintings gained recognition among art enthusiasts and collectors, laying the groundwork for his posthumous acclaim as one of the greatest artists of all time.

Learn more about Van Gogh’s letters with the VR Experience

A Life In Letters

In this exclusive virtual reality experience, created with Vincent’s very own letters to his brother Theo, you get to listen to Vincent speak about his artistic process, his deep connection to nature, and how he strives to share this unique vision through his artwork.

Laying the Groundwork for an Artistic Genius

Vincent Van Gogh’s experience as an art dealer sheds light on the interconnectedness of artistic creation and commercial endeavors. His journey exemplifies the symbiotic relationship between artists and art dealers, wherein each contributes to the advancement and promotion of artistic expression.

While Vincent’s legacy primarily revolves around his groundbreaking artistic oeuvre, his brief yet significant stint as an art dealer underscores the complexities of his persona. Beyond the canvas, Vincent’s involvement in the art trade adds depth to our understanding of his life and the broader cultural milieu of his time.

In conclusion, while Vincent Van Gogh is primarily remembered as a visionary artist, his role as an art dealer unveils a fascinating chapter in his life. Through his collaboration with his brother Theo and his immersion in the world of art brokerage, Vincent navigated the intricate dynamics of the art market while leaving an indelible mark on the annals of art history.

Resources to learn more
  1. Van Gogh Museum. “Theo van Gogh: Art Dealer and Brother.” Van Gogh Museum, www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/vincent-van-gogh/vincents-life-and-work/theo-van-gogh.
  2. Norton Simon Museum. “Goupil & Cie.” Norton Simon Museum, www.nortonsimon.org/art-activities-and-resources/glossary/goupil-and-cie/.
  3. Pickvance, Ronald. Van Gogh in Arles. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1984.
  4. Dorn, Roland. “Vincent van Gogh: The Ambiguity of Misery.” The Art Bulletin, vol. 52, no. 3, 1970, pp. 284–303. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3048635.

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