National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS


THE VAN GOGH MUSEUM

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People must know that he was a great artist.
Theo van Gogh to his sister Lies, August 1890

Van Gogh sold only a handful of pictures during his lifetime. Upon his death, his works became the possession of his younger brother, Theo, an art dealer who had supported him morally and financially throughout his career. Theo died six months after Vincent, however, and responsibility for the paintings fell to his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, who dedicated the rest of her life to promoting Van Gogh's art. Although she sold a number of paintings in order to spread knowledge of the artist, she kept many works representative of every phase of his career. Her son, Vincent Willem van Gogh, who inherited the collection in 1925, eventually placed it on loan to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 1962, it was transferred to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation created at the initiative of the Dutch state.

Plans for the construction of a museum devoted to Van Gogh began and, in 1963, the Dutch modernist architect Gerrit Rietveld was commissioned to design it. The museum opened in 1973. In addition to some two hundred paintings, five hundred drawings, and seven hundred letters by the artist, it houses the works Van Gogh had received by exchange from his artist friends, and his collection of Japanese prints. It also includes a selection of nineteenth-century paintings, drawings, and prints by Van Gogh's predecessors and contemporaries. Now under renovation, the Van Gogh Museum is scheduled to reopen in May 1999, with a new wing designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa.