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In a moving letter, Van Gogh complains about quarantine after his forced removal from the Yellow House New exhibition at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum is a unique opportunity to see Vincent’s correspondence, normally locked away in a vault

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When Van Gogh was sent to hospital again in March 1889, a few weeks after mutilating his ear, he ran out of writing paper. The solution was to use the envelope from a letter he had just received, addressed to him in Arles by his brother Theo. Having reached the bottom of the envelope Vincent squeezed in his last words, ending with an enigmatic query: “It’s perhaps a sort of quarantine I’m being put through. What do I know?”

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Van Gogh had effectively been quarantined by his neighbours. After slashing off most of his ear he was regarded, quite unfairly, as dangerous to others—and the police ordered him to be sent hospital. He was forced to leave his beloved home, the Yellow House. As Vincent complained to Theo: “Here I am, shut up for long days under lock and key and with warders in the isolation cell.” He insisted that he was “not like a madman but… the brother you know”.

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This unusual note is on display in ‘Your Loving Vincent’: Van Gogh’s Greatest Letters, which has just opened at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and runs until 10 January 2021. Featuring 40 of the artist’s most interesting letters, it includes some with little sketches, which are displayed alongside paintings such as The Potato Eaters (1885), The Bedroom (1888) and The Sower (1888).

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Van Gogh’s letters are the most interesting of any artist in history. Of the 825 that survive, 789 are in the Van Gogh Museum. For conservation reasons they are very rarely exhibited, which makes the present display such an unusual opportunity. Letters range from the earliest one, written while Vincent was a trainee art dealer in The Hague in 1872, to his final one, penned four days before he shot himself in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1890.

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Read more on The Art Newspaper:

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You may also like to read:

The real Van Gogh: A Genius Not Driven By Madness But Crippled By It

Vincent's Younger Brother and One of History's Most Important Art Dealers

Impacted Impasto, Evidence of the "Role Up" by Van Gogh 

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