Like most, chickens didn't like Van Gogh
The portrait of Dr. Rey, a good man. He gave this portrait to his mother who used it to secure her chicken coop.
This chapter is not only about the paintings destroyed or the one having survived being used as a chicken coop door, but also serves as a homage to the man, Vincent, and to his younger brother Theo. The reader will discover that in his last few years that instead of his problems, and not thanks to them, he created 350 masterpieces. And numerous myths are also dispelled.
For example of Van Gogh's successes, of the exhibitions where critics said of his work “what a great artist! His power of expression is extraordinary” and his work is “magnificent... attest a rare genius”.
Of a four page long article describing Vincent's skies “like streams of molten metals and crystals, which, at times, expose radiating, torrid solar disks” and called him a “great painter” and wondering if Vincent would ever get recognised, saying, that for the average petit-bourgeois, he was at the same time “too simple and too subtle”.
Vincent was not only aware of those comments, he replied to this wonderful article. Success started before Vincent sadly gave up and shot himself.
After a reminder of the successes, how this awkward man was treated, in Paris, and later Provence. In search for the Japanese style that influenced him, Vincent went to Provence, where he said “I'm always saying to myself that I'm in Japan here. That as a result I only have to open my eyes and paint right in front of me what makes an impression on me”.
And open his eyes he did, even at night: “I definitely want to paint a starry sky now. It often seems to me that the night is even more richly coloured than the day, coloured in the most intense violets, blues and greens”.
And in daytime the “the clearness of the atmosphere and the gay colour effects. The stretches of water make patches of a beautiful emerald and a rich blue in the landscapes, as we see it in the Japanese prints”.
Sharing a small flat with Gauguin, the two geniuses with concurring revolutionary ideas but contrasting characters challenged each other. In Gauguin's words, like two boiling volcanoes. Tensions built up, and Vincent cut off his own hear.
Dr. Rey, the young doctor who cared for a man who had cut his own hear, actually saw beyond the facade and befriended Vincent, who did in return his portrait. This painting ended in a chicken coop, and the story of how it fortunately survived is told.
But when Van Gogh attempted to offer a second painting to Dr. Rey, no one was interested, and another doctor told in front of Vincent that the painting was a “cochonnerie”, French for rubbish, but literally meaning pig-like. So this chapter recounts and quantifies what happened to the “cochonneries” in question : sold for 50 cents per bundle of ten, to be scrapped off and painted on, or used as target practice.
Afterwards the reader will enjoy a vibrant homage to Vincent, and to his brother Theo, for having encouraged and financed his brother all along, as well as his wife Jo, who was essential in securing Vincent's legacy.
This is a preview of the chapter about Vincent Van Gogh, the myth, the reality, and an homage to the artist, from the book Lost Treasures.