Ever Yours The Essential Letters Vincent van Gogh, Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, Nienke Bakker

Publication date:
13 Nov 2014
Yale University Press
784 pages: 254 x 178mm
95 color + 13 b-w illus.

"There is scarcely one letter by Van Gogh which I, who am certainly no expert, do not find fascinating." —W. H. Auden

In addition to his many remarkable paintings and drawings, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) left behind a fascinating and voluminous body of correspondence. This highly accessible book includes a broad selection of 265 letters, from a total of 820 in existence, that focus on Van Gogh’s relentless quest to find his destiny, a search that led him to become an artist; the close bond with his brother Theo; his fraught relationship with his father; his innate yearning for recognition; and his great love of art and literature. The correspondence not only offers detailed insights into Van Gogh’s complex inner life, but also re-creates the world in which he lived and the artistic avant-garde that was taking hold in Paris.
The letters are accompanied by a general introduction, historic family photographs, and reproductions of 87 actual pages of letters that contain sketches by Van Gogh. Selected from the critically acclaimed 6-volume set of letters published by the Van Gogh Museum in 2009, Ever Yours is the essential book on Van Gogh’s letters, which every art and literature lover needs to own.  

More about this title

 For an extract from Ever Yours: The Essential Letters visit the YaleBooks blog. 

Leo Jansen, formerly curator of paintings at the Van Gogh Museum, is editor of the Mondrian Edition Project. Hans Luijten is a senior researcher and Nienke Bakker is curator of paintings at the Van Gogh Museum. 

“The letters serve as a kind of autobiography, attesting to van Gogh’s engagement in art, his trials and aspirations, and, most vividly, his relationship with his younger brother Theo. . . . [Van Gogh’s] descriptions of his own paintings are poetically evocative, and his long, detailed, emotional outpourings offer insight into his suffering, loneliness and dreams.”—Kirkus  Reviews

“Frequently more absorbing, expansive, and instructive than a collection of letters ought to be.”—Dan Piepenbring, Paris Review “Daily”

'No artist was ever a more engaging, vivid, honest, yearning, generous correspondent: you can open this selection on any page and be instantly riveted. Marvellously condensed from the Van Gogh Museum’s landmark six-volume 2009 edition.'—Jackie Wullschlager, The Financial Times

“The truth about Vincent van Gogh, the very core of his struggles, beliefs, madness, and ambitions can be found in his collected letters, Ever Yours.”—Nick Mafi, Daily Beast

“Frequently more absorbing, expansive, and instructive than a collection of letters ought to be.”—Dan Piepenbring, Paris Review’s “Daily” Blog

“A revelatory read in its hefty totality, brimming with insights into the rich and turbulent inner life of one of humanity’s greatest creative luminaries.”—Maria Popova, Brainpickings

“Of all the qualities we associate with Vincent Van Gogh, ‘giver of profound life advice’ generally doesn't top the list. But based on the insights contained within [Ever Yours], a collection of letters written by the artist himself, perhaps it should.”—Sophie Kleeman, Mic

‘A fitting tribute in the year that marks the 125th anniversary of the artist’s death.’—Apollo Magazine.

A Best Art Book of 2014 — Huffington Post

“This book will soothe your artistic soul even as it breaks your heart. . . . [Van Gogh] does not come across as the wild-eyed, ear-severing artist of his myth in this extraordinary volume, comprised of 265 carefully selected letters, many illustrated with his sketches and doodles. . . . The real surprise, and delight, of this volume is to learn that Van Gogh was not trained as an artist. He was a writer who happened to work in the art trade and his real aspiration was to become a preacher. . . . Get this book for the artist  in the family who believes he or she has seen it all already.”—Alan Bisbort, Waterbury [CT] Republican-American

“Of considerable interest to art lovers, students, scholars, and others, this affordable, well-presented, and scholarly publication is very highly recommended for many academic, large public, and special library art book collections.”—Library Journal, starred review

“[Van Gogh’s letters] make up not only a creative autobiography without parallel in visual art but what the editors of a new selection call ‘a highlight of world literature.’. . . Lovers not only of great art but great autobiography should devour this ample sample. A bargain at 770 pages, enriched by scores of the drawings (or ‘croquis’) with which Vincent explained his works-in-progress, the volume knits 265 letters into a coherent, impassionaed, and eloquent pilgrim’s progress”—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent