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Selfie with ‘Sunflowers’

Julian Barnes, 29 July 2015

Ever Yours: The Essential Letters 
by Vincent van Gogh, edited by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker.
Yale, 777 pp., £30, December 2014, 978 0 300 20947 1
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Van Gogh: A Power Seething 
by Julian Bell.
Amazon, 171 pp., £6.99, January 2015, 978 1 4778 0129 1
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... Just as​ there are writers’ writers, so there are painters’ painters: necessary exemplars, moral guides, embodiers of the art. Often they are quiet artists, who lack a shouty biography, who go about their work with modest pertinacity, believing the art greater than the artist. Noisier painters sometimes unwisely patronise them. In France, the 18th century gave us Chardin, the 19th Corot, and the 20th Braque: all true north on the artistic compass ...

For Those Who Don’t Know

Julian Bell: Van Gogh’s Letters, 5 November 2009

Vincent van Gogh: The Letters 
edited by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker, translated by Michael Hoyle et al.
Thames and Hudson, 2180 pp., £395, October 2009, 978 0 500 23865 3
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... A prim and eager young clerk, working for his art-dealer uncle, is writing to his schoolboy brother. Pictures and books are the 19-year-old’s meat and drink: he soon adds Millais, Dickens and George Eliot to his love for Jean-François Millet, when in 1873, Goupil & Co, agents in lithographs, steel engravings and ‘modern paintings’, send him from The Hague to their branch just off the Strand ...

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