The exhibition at the Royal Academy is made up of hundreds of oils watercolours and drawings by Van Gogh. It is a rare opportunity to so many paintings together especially with the drawings and letters relating to the paintings placed alongside each one. The popular vision of Van Gogh is of a tormented expressionist, but the paintings, letters and drawings offer an opportunity for a wider appreciation of the depth of this artist. Here we find a very thoughtful and reflective mind, inspired by the example of other painters, by literature and by a tender vision of humanity in all its earthly glory, with a great appreciation of the aesthetic and expressive possibilities of colour.
Van Gogh was born in 1853 in North Brabant, Holland, the son of a pastor. After an early career in the art world he himself became an evangelical preacher amongst the poor, before finding his true vocation as a painter. His paintings often drew on religious subject matter, such as the Sower, a theme he returned to many times.