Tonight, we enter into the early years of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), from his birth in the village of Zundert in the Netherlands, to his time in the Borinage mining region of Belgium. It was there, at the age of twenty-seven—and after years of personal and professional failures—that he hit bottom … and suddenly realized he was an artist.
In the first half of the episode, I read from Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s biography, Van Gogh: The Life. The second half is devoted to a handful of letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother in 1879 and 1880, where he admits the humiliation of his failures, and then revels in his newfound passion for drawing and painting. The letters can be found online here.